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La Rochelle out for redemption in French knockouts

After claiming their second away win for the season, La Rochelle booked their spot in the French Top 14 semifinal – defeating Toulon by 34-29.

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They will face the current Champions Cup winners Toulouse in what will be a grudge match.

Toulouse defeated La Rochelle in the 2023 Top 14 Final by 29 points to 26 and they will be hurting about that result.

“We put in a very good performance but we’re still a long way from perfection,” said La Rochelle captain Gregory Alldritt.

“It’s encouraging because it makes us want to get back to work and raise our game.”

Toulon who played in the knockout stages for the first time since 2018 scored all their first-half points (15) through the boot of Melvyn Jaminet.

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They were, however, trailing 24-15 at that stage with flyhalf Antoine Hastoy, wing Dillyn Leyds and centre Jules Favre all getting on the try-scoring sheet to give La Rochelle a nine-point lead.

Discipline and errors proved costly for Toulon in the second half which led to a fourth try for La Rochelle when flank Oscar Jegou went over for the score which Hastoy converted for a 31-15 lead.

The final 10 minutes of the clash saw La Rochelle forwards Will Skelton and Judicael Cancoriet being yellow-carded.

Toulon managed to stage a late comeback in the process with a penalty try and a try by hooker Jack Singleton in the final stage of the game.

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“We’re going to come back even better,” said Toulon director of rugby Pierre Mignoni.

“La Rochelle has a lot of experience. They’ve won more titles recently than we have. It hasn’t been a disastrous season, but it’s hard to lose at home like that.”

Bordeaux-Begles will take on Racing 92 on Sunday in the second play-off with the winners to book a date with Stade Francais for a place in the final.

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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