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It's the Battle of the Giants

MATCH REPORT: The two most successful teams in the history of Europe’s premier competition, the Champions Cup, will meet in the Final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 25.

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Stade Toulousain, the five-time winners, will face off against four-time champions Leinster in the biggest game outside of a Test match.

The French giants were made to work harder than they would have liked at Stadium de Toulouse on Sunday, but the most decorated team in the European game scored a 38-26 win over Harlequins to advance to the Final.

First-half tries by Matthis Lebel, Peato Mauvaka, Thibaud Flament and Antoine Dupont (two) for Toulouse, with replies by Marcus Smith and Will Evans for Quins, had the home team enjoying a comfortable 31-12 lead at the break.

The second half – with two early scores by Cadan Murley and Tyrone Green for Quins – had the Stadium de Toulouse crowd singing a different tune.

That was until the 67th minute – when hooker Jack Walker was yellow-carded for making head contact with Dupont at a tackle.

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Almost immediately Juan Cruz Mallia scored for the French team, effectively ending the comeback and sending the French team into the Final.

* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!

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Harlequins had promised all week they would go toe to toe with Stade Toulousain, and whilst the English team gave it their all they could not withstand the sheer power and pace of Antoine Dupont and co.

The scrumhalf picked up a brace of tries to lead his team into the Final, where they will have the chance to secure a record-extending sixth Champions Cup title against Leinster – seeking to match the Top 14 team’s current haul of five tournament wins.

Whilst Harlequins tried to keep pace with Stade Toulousain over the first 40 minutes, it became clear that the London team were dealing with a uniquely potent force.

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Harlequins crossed twice in the opening half, Marcus Smith darting his way through the Stade Toulousain defence and Will Evans dotting down after a driving maul, but both were in response to scores from the Top 14 team who ended up crossing five times in the first 40 to rack up a formidable half-time lead.

Wing Matthis Lebel scored after just three minutes as the French team laid down a marker for the attacking display that was to come, while Peato Mauvaka bundled over for try No.2.

Thibaud Flament seized on an opportune loose ball to dot down for the third, before Mauvaka was involved again for Dupont’s first try; the hooker meandered his way to the edge of the tryline only to be denied a magnificent score, but Dupont was on hand to pick up the ball and finish the job.

The 2021 Player of the Year, also nominated for the prize this year, scored a near identical try moments later as Stade Toulousain grabbed their fifth.

With Blair Kinghorn kicking three conversions to give Stade Toulousain a 31-12 half-time lead, Harlequins required a strong opening to the second half to give themselves any hope of an unlikely comeback – exactly what they produced.

First, wing Cadan Murley produced a spectacular diving finish to give his side the perfect platform to build from, before fullback Tyrone Green ran onto the ball from deep to break through the Stade Toulousain line and dot down for Harlequins’ fourth try – Smith converting both to make it a five-point game (26-31).

But the comeback would not be completed.

The English team suffered a huge setback when Jack Walker was shown yellow, and moments later replacement Juan Cruz Mallia went over in the corner for the French side to kill the game.

Thomas Ramos, on for Kinghorn, kicked the extras to secure Stade Toulousain’s path to the Final and tee up a mouthwatering face-off on May 25 against Leinster at the astonishing Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The scorers

For Stade Toulousain
Tries: Lebel, Mauvaka, Flament, Dupont 2, Mallia
Cons: Kinghorn 3, Ramos

For Harlequins
Tries: Smith, Evans, Murley, Green
Cons: Smith 3

Yellow card: Jack Walker (Harlequins, 67 – foul play, head contact at clear-out)

The teams:

Stade Toulousain: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Juan Cruz Mallia, 13 Paul Costes, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Matthis Lebel, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont (captain), 8 Alexandre Roumat, 7 Jack Willis, 6 Francois Cros, 5 Thibaud Flament, 4 Emmanuel Meafou, 3 Dorian Aldegheri, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 1 Cyril Baille
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Rodrigue Neti, 18 Joel Merkler, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Mathis Castro Ferreira, 21 Paul Graou, 22 Santiago Chocobares, 23 Thomas Ramos

Harlequins: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Luke Northmore, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Will Evans, 6 Chandler Cunningham-South, 5 Stephan Lewies (captain), 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Will Collier, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Fin Baxter
Replacements: 16 Sam Riley, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 George Hammond, 20 James Chisholm, 21 Will Porter, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Oscar Beard

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Chris Busby (Ireland), Eoghan Cross (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

  • Additional reporting by @ChampionsCup

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