Toulouse beat 14-man La Rochelle for historic fifth title
EUROPEAN CUP REPORT: Toulouse beat 14-man La Rochelle 22-17 to win the Champions Cup Final in a thrilling finish at Twickenham on Saturday.
The victory meant Toulouse had been crowned champions of Europe for a record fifth time, surpassing the mark of four titles they had shared with Irish province Leinster.
La Rochelle played the most of the match a man down, after centre Levani Botia was sent off in the 27th minute and were 10 points behind before Tawara Kerr-Barlow’s late try gave them hope of an improbable win.
“The history is everywhere around the club, it hits you straight way when you get there so for us it was a huge motivating factor to live up to the standard that had already been set up for us,” Toulouse No. 8 Jerome Kaino said.
“To be able to get that fifth star is unreal,” he added.
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No other option for Luke Pearce there. Red card Levani Botia pic.twitter.com/j0k3byCJfK
— Smallclone (@Smallclone_) May 22, 2021
Yet despite La Rochelle’s disadvantage, the score was still level at 12-all until the hour mark as Toulouse’s Argentina centre Juan Cruz Mallia crossed for the opening try of the match.
France flyhalf Romain Ntamack, who along with La Rochelle counterpart Ihaia West had already kicked four penalties, converted to put Toulouse seven points in front.
Ntamack then landed another penalty to put Toulouse two scores in front at 22-12 with barely 10 minutes left.
Yet in the 73rd minute La Rochelle hit back with a try from New Zealand scrumhalf Tawera Kerr Barlow.
But West’s conversion bounced off the right post and clear, meaning La Rochelle needed a try, rather than a penalty, to draw level with time running out.
It was a task that just proved beyond them as Top 14 leaders Toulouse held on surpass the record of four European Champions Cup titles they had previously shared with Irish province Leinster.
For La Rochelle
Pens: West 4
Pens: Ntamack 5
Red card: Levani Botia (La Rochelle, 27)
Yellow card: Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse, 31)
La Rochelle: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Levani Botia, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Kevin Gourdon, 6 Grégory Alldritt, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Romain Sazy (captain), 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Pierre Bourgarit, 1 Dany Priso.
Replacements: 16 Facundo Bosch, 17 Reda Wardi, 18 Arthur Joly, 19 Thomas Lavault, 20 Wiaan Liebenberg, 21 Paul Boudehent, 22 Arthur Retiere, 23 Jules Plisson.
Toulouse: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Juan Cruz Mallía, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Matthis Lebel, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont (captain), 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Francois Cros, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Richie Arnold, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 1 Cyril Baille.
Replacements: 16 Guillaume Marchand, 17 Clément Castets, 18 David Ainu’u, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Thibaud Flament, 21 Selevasio Tolofua, 22 Baptiste Germain, 23 Thomas Ramos.
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)