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'Just another defeat' for trophyless Stade Rochelais

REPORT: Defending champions Toulouse reached the French Top 14 Final with a 39-23 victory over La Rochelle, whose poor discipline saw them reduced to 13 men in the second half of a bruising semifinal.

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Toulouse finished the regular season on top of the table and will face either Bordeaux-Begles or Stade Francais in the Final at Marseille on June 28.

Victory in that match would crown Toulouse champions for a 33rd time and give them a European Champions Cup-Top 14 double for the third time after 1996 and 2021.

Ugo Mola’s team scored tries through wings Blair Kinghorn (22nd minute), Juan Cruz Mallia (30th and 48th) and replacement Matthis Lebel (80th) as well as centre Santiago Chocobares (52nd).

“We knew it would be a very tense match, like the last four or five matches we’ve played against La Rochelle,” said Mola who believes there is room for improvement.

“We lost nine or 10 rucks, we were penalised 15 times, it’s too many, especially in a match where we were 14 against 13, then 15 against 13.”

La Rochelle led 20-15 at half-time with hooker Silatolu Latu and back row forward Gregory Alldritt grabbing tries before they fell apart after the break.

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International props Uini Atonio (43rd minute) and Reda Wardi (61st) were red-carded for a dangerous tackle and violent play respectively.

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“It’s just a defeat,” said La Rochelle coach Ronan O’Gara, adding: “That’s what it is.

“We’ll never know if we had the ability to test them.

“We have to understand that discipline is very important in sport.

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“When you suffer two red cards, you go home.

“I’m very disappointed for the players.

“This defeat will take a long time to digest, that’s how it is.”

Victory mirrored Toulouse’s dominance of the domestic league – they made the semifinals on the back of a season-best 765 points scored and with 103 tries.

Toulouse will be playing in their fourth Final in the last five years.

Of those, they have won three, in 2019, 2021 and 2023.

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