Toulouse wins French arm-wrestle to reach Twickenham Final
EUROPEAN CUP MATCH REPORT: Toulouse beat Bordeaux-Begles 21-9 in an all-French encounter at Stade Ernest Wallon on Saturday to advance to the Final.
They will meet the winner of the other semifinal – between La Rochelle v Leinster – in the Twickenham Final on May 22.
It was French star scrumhalf Antoine Dupont who punched Toulouse’s ticket into the Champions Cup grand final.
* As it happened. To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!
Dupont scored a late try to send the joint-record four-time winners – who last won the competition in 2010 – into another Final.
Dupont crossed in the final 10 minutes against an away side who played their first game since April 11’s quarterfinal victory over Racing 92 – after recording eight cases of COVID-19 in their squad.
Toulouse coach Ugo Mola brought former New Zealand back row forward Jerome Kaino back into the starting line-up after he had been rested since the last-eight win over Clermont three weeks ago.
Bordeaux coach Christophe Urios made six changes from the win against Racing last month, with former France captain Jefferson Poirot, who was one of the squad members to contract the virus, starting on the bench.
At a rain-sodden Stade Ernest-Wallon, Urios’ men led 3-0 within three minutes after Matthieu Jalibert’s penalty goal.
Toulouse responded immediately as they defied the difficult conditions before the Top 14’s leading try scorer Matthis Lebel crossed in the corner.
Lebel, 22, claimed his 15th of the season after ambitious passes from Romain Ntamack and Maxime Médard.
Ntamack, who reclaimed the France No.10 jersey for the final game of this year’s Six Nations from Jalibert, missed the conversion.
The two stand-offs traded shots at goal and Toulouse led 8-6 at the break despite Bordeaux-Begles’ control of the fixture.
The downpour stopped and the sun broke through after the interval as Ntamack kicked another penalty to make it 11-6 after 45 minutes.
Mola’s men took a patient stronghold of the tie before Ntamack and Jalibert were both successful with shots at goal as the hosts led 14-9 with 10 minutes to go.
With a place in the final on the line, the game opened up as the home side began to impose their traditional open style of play.
Their possession was rewarded with seven minutes remaining as Médard freed his arms in a tackle, off-loaded to Zack Holmes, who found Dupont for his 16th try, for club and country, of the season.
Ntamack slotted the extras and kicked the ball to touch with the clock in the red to end the game as Toulouse made it to their first final in more than a decade.
Tries: Lebel, Dupont
Pens: Ntamack 3
Pens: Jalibert 3
Yellow card: Cameron Woki (Bordeaux-Begles, 25)
Toulouse: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Zack Holmes, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Matthis Lebel, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Francois Cros, 6 Alban Placines, 5 Richie Arnold, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Julien Marchand (captain), 1 Cyril Baille.
Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Clément Castets, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Antoine Miquel, 22 Baptiste Germain, 23 Juan Cruz Mallía.
Bordeaux-Begles: 15 Nans Ducuing, 14 Romain Buros, 13 Pablo Uberti, 12 Yoram Falatea-Moefana, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Matthieu Jalibert (captain), 9 Maxime Lucu, 8 Alexandre Roumat, 7 Guido Petti, 6 Cameron Woki, 5 Jandré Marais, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Maxime Lamothe, 1 Thierry Paiva.
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Jefferson Poirot, 18 Ben Tameifuna, 19 Cyril Cazeaux, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Yann Lesgourgues, 22 Ulupano Seuteni, 23 Thomas Jolmes.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Christophe Ridley (England), Adam Leal (England)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)