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Toulouse break Leinster hearts to win sixth Champions Cup title

MATCH REPORT: The serial Champions Cup winners did it again as Toulouse claimed their sixth title when they overpowered Leinster 31-22 in the Final at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.

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And the French did it with 14 men in extra time.

Don’t be fooled, this Final had drama written all over it.

It was a Final that lived up to the expectations with the kind of intensity that would not look out of place at Test level.

Toulouse got on the board first through the boot of Scottish international Blair Kinghorn, a man who would play a big role in the French side’s efforts.

Toulouse were in command early. However, Leinster slowly worked their way into the game having settled after ten minutes of intense defence.

Finally, Leinster’s Ross Byrne got to put his side on the scoreboard, and he did it effortlessly after Toulouse went off their feet inside their own 22.

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It was 6-3 to Toulouse after 19 minutes of play.

The first 20 minutes was a show of physicality with some ferocious hits on display and the first casualty was Pita Ahki who couldn’t continue and was replaced by Pumas centre Santiago Chocobares for Toulouse.

Leinster’s Dan Sheehan almost made it all the way to the tryline after stripping Antoine Dupont and burst into the clear. But it was that man Dupont again who got across to help Kinghorn bring him down.

The French scrumhalf showcased his Sevens skills there, scrambling all over the field.

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And it was Toulouse that kept the scoreboard ticking over with Kinghorn knocking over another three points.

The teams went into half-time with Toulouse ahead 9-6 after a frantic first 40 minutes as Byrne slotted another successful penalty.

Leinster had nine visits to the 22 and only trailed by three points, which is not Leinster-like.

The second half started better for Leo Cullen’s side as they drew equal through another successful penalty goal for Byrne.

Josh van der Flier entered the fray and the former World Player of the Year made an immediate impact.

It was never going to be a high-scoring game and Kinghorn stepped up again to stretch his side into the lead again with three points on the stroke of 60 minutes.

Leinster got caught offside and Toulouse had no hesitation in pointing to the posts. As finals go, no chances were missed to get points on the board.

The final quarter saw Toulouse slightly in the lead but Leinster looked like the team more likely to score a try.

Crazy to think after an hour there were still no tries on display and it just shows how tight this encounter was.

And singing by the same hymn book, Byrne knocked over an easy penalty goal to level the score at 12-12 apiece.

The only possible try in the match saw a defence that took everyone’s breath away as Jordan Larmour tackled Mattis Lebel into touch.

But it was Toulouse that nudged in front again as Thomas Ramos stepped to knock over the penalty goal.

Toulouse bossed that key battleground to keep Leinster at bay despite so much possession.

But then Ciaran Frawley stepped up for a Leinster penalty in the 77th minute, adding drama to the Final scrip as the teams drew level at 15-15 again.

Extra time was on the cards.

Frawley tried his best as he dropped back in the pocket for a drop goal but it was wide.

As the clock struck 80 minutes, the teams gathered to regroup for extra time.

The drama was not over.

 

With a yellow card to James Lowe, a missed penalty kick by Ramos, and then a try for Lebel, converted by Ramos, finally saw Toulouse take a significant step toward the title.

At that stage, it was 22-15 to the French side.

Ramos rubbed more salt into Leinster’s wounds with another successful three-pointer leaving the Irish to score twice.

And then it unravelled for Leinster as Toulouse won another penalty from a knock-on.

The drama continued as a red card was produced as Richie Arnold got his marching orders for a head clash.

Leinster used their numerical advantage and got Van der Flier over the whitewash.

Three points was the difference as the second part of extra time got underway, Toulouse leading by 25-22.

Two successful penalty goals by Ramos stretched Toulouse to 31-22 and the French had one hand on the trophy.

Man of the Match: Antoine Dupont – everything this man does is top-notch. He made four or five match-defining turnovers and was a ball-stealing machine.

Scorers:

For Leinster:
Try: Van der Flier
Con: Frawley
Pens: R Byrne 4, Frawley

For Toulouse:
Try: Lebel
Con: Ramos
Pens: Kinghorn 4, Ramos 4

Teams:

Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Jamie Osborne, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris (captain), 7 Will Connors, 6 Ryan Baird, 5 Jason Jenkins, 4 Joe McCarthy, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter
Replacements: 16 Rónan Kelleher, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Ala’alatoa, 19 James Ryan, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Ciarán Frawley, 23 Josh van der Flier

Toulouse: 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 François Cros, 5 Emmanuel Meafou, 4 Thibaud Flament, 3 Dorian Aldegheri, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 1 Cyril Baille
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Rodrigue Neti, 18 Joel Merkler, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Joshua Brennan, 21 Paul Graou, 22 Santiago Chocobares, 23 Thomas Ramos

Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant Referees: Karl Dickson (England) and Andrea Piardi (Italy)
TMO: Ian Tempest (England)

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