Planet Rugby

Toulon knock out Leinster and BOD

06th April 2014 18:16

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Toulon wing Drew Mitchell in Heineken Cup quarter final

Toulon's second: Drew Mitchell

Toulon booked a spot in the Heineken Cup semi-finals after they knocked out Leinster via a powerful 29-14 victory at Stade Félix Mayol on Sunday.

Stade Vélodrome in Marseille will host the 2013 champions' last-four showdown with Munster on April 27 as we now know Europe's final four.

Test outcast Steffon Armitage was Toulon's star performer as he dominated the breakdown to halt any momentum Leinster had hoped to achieve.

Ultimately that strength and the combination of speed and power saw the hosts cross twice via prop Xavier Choicci and wing Drew Mithcell.

It was a deserved win that brings an end to Brian O'Driscoll's Heineken Cup career, while Jonny Wilkinson's European tenure rolls on despite hobbling off after 28 minutes due to an injury.

A typically intense if disappointingly mistake-ridden opening period saw the teams go into half-time level at 6-6 via two penalties each from Wilkinson and Jimmy Gopperth.

Although Gopperth kicked a third three-pointer in the second period and Jordi Murphy scored a late consolation try, the hosts managed to take the chances that came their way after the break as Chiocci and Mitchell went over.

Matt Giteau, who took over as first choice kicker when Wilkinson went off injured, added ten points with the boot while Delon Armitage also produced a long-range penalty to secure their passage into the last four.

Despite Leinster's pedigree in this competition, having won the tournament three times over recent years, they were facing the defending champions, a team that have spent millions on talent from around the world.

However, it was one of their few French players that made the biggest impact early on as Mathieu Bastareaud went on a number of charges in the opening minutes.

Toulon dominated the initial exchanges but their only reward came through the boot of Wilkinson who gave them a 3-0 lead.

The former England international fly-half then added another from the tee to extend their advantage to six before Leinster had even strung a few phases together.

But, with the quality the Irish province possess throughout the team, you can never write off Matt O'Connor's men and they soon found their way back into the match.

In particular, the visitors' scrum was providing an excellent foundation and successive three-pointers from Gopperth levelled matters at the interval.

Much like the first period, the French side started the second half the brighter and retook the lead through the boot of Giteau. That score provided the momentum they needed and moments later, pressure on the Leinster line resulted in Chiocci going over.

The away side's fly-half was on target for the third from the tee after 55 minutes to bring them to within seven points, but Toulon continued to control proceedings.

Mitchell touched down following yet another Bastareaud charge before full-back Armitage added a penalty from 55 metres to effectively rubber-stamp the victory.

Murphy crossed the whitewash late on to give O'Connor's men a glimmer of hope but, although the hosts saw Florian Fresia receive a yellow for taking the scrum-half out, Giteau had the last word when his penalty bisected the uprights.

The scorers:

For Toulon:
Tries: Choicci, Mitchell
Con: Giteau 2
Pen: Wilkinson 2, Giteau 2, D Armitage
Yellow: Fresia (74 mins - ruck offence)

For Leinster:
Try: Murphy
Pen: Gopperth 3

Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Drew Mitchell, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 David Smith, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Sebastian Tillous-Borde, 8 Steffon Armitage, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Juan Smith, 5 Jocelino Suta, 4 Danie Roussouw, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Xavier Choicci.
Replacements: 16 Jean-Charles Orioli, 17 Florian Fresia, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Virgile Bruni, 20 Bryan Habana, 21 Maxime Mermoz, 22 Michael Claassens, 23 Konstantine Mikautadze.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Leo Cullen, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Zane Kirchner.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Greg Garner (England), Luke Pearce (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

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