Luke McAlister kicked eighteen points to help Toulouse to a 24-15 win over Castres in a try-less Top 14 semi-final on Saturday.
Luke McAlister kicked eighteen points to help Toulouse to a 24-15 win over Castres in a try-less Top 14 semi-final at the Stadium de Toulouse on Saturday.
The result means the defending champions will head to Paris next week hunting their 19th French crown against the winners of Sunday's semi-final between Clermont and Toulon at the same venue.
McAlister's long-range kicking shoes and an extraordinary try-saving tackle from Vincent Clerc proved Castres's undoing in a hard-fought clash.
McAlister landed six penalties, including two from inside his own half, while Lionel Beauxis also kick six points, including an excellent drop to secure victory for the hosts.
Castres came the closest to crossing the whitewash shortly before half time when Max Evans broke clear only to be chased down, tackled and rolled onto his back on the tryline by Clerc. It will surely go down as one of the tackles of the season.
Despite being reduced to 13 men in the closing stages of the first half, Toulouse led 15-12 as the teams headed to the changing rooms.
Castres sharpshooter Pierre Bernard levelled the scores shortly after the restart but the strength of the home pack proved the difference between the sides as they won three more penalties in the final half hour, which former All Black McAlister duly sent over the crossbar.
“I'm really happy, everyone in the dressing room was,” said McAlister.
“Tonight, my kicking was good. I haven't had that kind of success with the boot lately.”
Pens: McAlister 6, Beauxis
Pens: Bernard 3, Teulet
Yellow cards: Fritz (Toulouse – 32nd min – high tackle); Matanavou (Toulouse – 37th min – cynical offside)
Toulouse: 15 ClÃ©ment Poitrenaud, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Timoci Matanavou, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Jean-Marc Doussain, 8 Thierry Dusautoir, 7 Louis Picamoles, 6 Jean Bouilhou, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Census Johnston, 2 William Servat, 1 Jean-Baptiste Poux.
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Gurthro Steenkamp, 18 Romain Millo-Chluski, 19 GrÃ©gory Lamboley, 20 Luke Burgess, 21 Yann David, 22 Yannick Jauzion, 23 Yohan MontÃ¨s.
Castres: 15 Romain Teulet, 14 Romain Martial, 13 Max Evans, 12 Romain Cabannes, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Pierre Bernard, 9 Thierry Lacrampe, 8 Yannick Caballero, 7 Matemini Masoe, 6 Ibrahim Diarra, 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Matthias Rolland, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Mathieu Bonello, 1 Yannick Forestier.
Replacements: 16 Marc Antoine Tallier, 17 Saimone Taumoepeau, 18 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 19 Jannie Bornman, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Seremaia BaÃ¯, 22 Thomas Sanchou, 23 Karena Wihongi.
Referee: JÃ©rÃ´me Garces