Planet Rugby

Toulon book ticket to Paris

24th May 2013 21:51

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Toulon s scrum half Fred Michalak

Another final: Frederic Michalak

Toulon will have a chance at claiming an historic European-French double after beating reigning champions Toulouse 24-9 in Friday's Top 14 semi-final in Nantes.

Toulon will now face either Clermont or Castres in the final at the Stade de France on June 1.

The defending champions ensured the clash was a highly entertaining spectacle, throwing the ball around like a hot potato in the classic Toulousain tradition, but in the end it was Toulon's more pragmatic approach that prevailed.

Toulon led 8-6 at the break thanks to a try from ex-Springbok Danie Rossouw before a late score from English full-back Delon Armitage sealed victory for the newly-crowned European champions.

These teams played out a try-less final this time last year, but it took just two minutes for Rossouw to find his way over the whitewash after a pinpoint kick-pass from former Toulouse stalwart Frederic Michalak.

A weak scrum cost Toulon the Top 14 title a year ago and they were dealt two heavy blows before kick-off with the last-minute withdrawals of props Carl Hayman and Gethin Jenkins, both due to calf injuries.

And it was a scrum penalty that gave Toulouse their first points via the boot of Luke McAlister.

Jonny Wilkinson kicked his first three-pointer to restore the five-point gap only to see McAlister reply in kind on the half-hour mark.

RCT would hold a two-point lead until the break thanks to a controversial TMO decision to deny Toulouse a try for an apparent forward pass.

Toulouse moved ahead early in the second period when Census Johnston got the better of Andrew Sheridan at scrum time and McAlister hit the target from the kicking tee.

The English prop would soon have his revenge however as the next penalty went against Johnston and Wilkinson could put Toulon back in front at 11-9.

Wilkinson landed a crucial blow just after the hour mark with a trademark drop-goal to give his team a bit of breathing room.

The pressure began to tell as unforced errors put a stick in the spokes of Toulouse's expansive gameplan. A knock-on from McAlister gave Toulon a scrum from which they claimed another penalty, which Wilkinson landed from long range.

Again Toulouse would pay the price for pushing their attacking intentions too far as Gurthro Steenkamp coughed up a loose pass, handing Armitage the opportunity to race home and secure the win for Toulon.

The scorers:

For Toulon:
Tries: Rossouw, Armitage
Con: Wilkinson
Pens: Wilkinson 3
Drop: Wilkinson

For Toulouse:
Pens: McAlister 3

Rugby Club Toulonnais: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Rudi Wulf, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Jonny Wilkinson (c), 9 Frederic Michalak, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 6 Danie Rossouw, 5 Nick Kennedy, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Davit Kubriashvili, 2 Sebastien Bruno, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Jean-Charles Orioli, 17 Chilachava, 18 Xavier Chiocci, 19 Rocky Elsom, 20 Steffon Armitage, 21 Maxime Mermoz, 22 Sébastien Tillous-Borde , 23 Jocelino Suta.

Stade Toulousain:15 Clement Poitrenaud, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Yannick Jauzion, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Maxime Medard, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Jean Marc Doussain, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Jean Bouilhou, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Census Johnston, 2 William Servat, 1 Vasil Kakovin.
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Gurthro Steenkamp, 18 Romain Millo Chlusky, 19 Yannick Nyanga, 20 Luke Burgess, 21 Lionel Beauxis, 22 Yann David, 23 Jean Batiste Poux.

Venue: Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes
Referee: Pascal Gauzere
Assistant referees: Romain Poite and Sébastien Clouté

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