Blair Kinghorn brace helps Antoine Dupont’s Toulouse ease past Exeter Chiefs in Champions Cup quarter-final

Planet Rugby
Blair Kinghorn for Toulouse against Exeter Chiefs.

Blair Kinghorn for Toulouse against Exeter Chiefs.

A brace from Scotland star Blair Kinghorn and one from Antoine Dupont helped a nine-try Toulouse beat Exeter Chiefs 64-26 in their Investec Champions Cup quarter-final.

Romain Ntamack, Jack Willis, Pita Ahki (2) and Juan Cruz Mallia (2) were the French side’s other scorers while Kinghorn kicked a further 13 points and Thomas Ramos six.

For Exeter Chiefs the game got away from them after the break as a strong first half could not be replicated in the sun. Ethan Roots and Zack Wimbush scored their tries.

Click here for scorers

Toulouse will now await a Champions Cup semi-final against Harlequins at Le Stadium while Leinster take on Northampton Saints at Croke Park in the other knockout clash.

The French giants were made to fight in an end-to-end first half, but in the end their vast European experience proved too much for Rob Baxter’s youthful side, who were denied the opportunity of an all-English semi-final with Quins.

Going with an unchanged starting line-up from that which defeated Bath in the round of 16, it was the Chiefs who started on the front foot, taking the lead inside five minutes when Henry Slade slotted them in front with a penalty just metres from the home try-line.

Toulouse v Exeter: Five takeaways from Champions Cup quarter-final of two halves as ‘outstanding’ lock dominates Chiefs

That early lead, however, lasted just a matter of minutes as Toulouse claimed the game’s opening score when a burst down the left flank from Mattis Lebel carved the opening for Ntamack to glide over for the try, converted by Kinghorn.

A second Slade penalty kept the visitors firmly in the hunt, before fellow England international Roots got the Chiefs back in front once more, thundering his way over from a crafty tap penalty move to claim their opening score, which Slade was able to add the extras to.

Kinghorn and Slade exchanged successful penalties apiece as the Chiefs continued to keep their more illustrious hosts at bay. But, as half-time approached, it was the French side who clawed their way back in front.

Centre Ahki was the architect, his powerful run shaking off the attentions of Josh Hodge, before he fed the ball to former Wasps forward Willis, who steamrollered his way over Harvey Skinner for the converted score.

Although there was little to choose between the sides at the turn, it was Toulouse who came out firing in the second period. Playing with advantage just minutes into the half, the hosts used their powerful pack to punch their way into enemy territory, the fruits of which allowed Kinghorn to find his way over for the score he also converted.

Worse was to follow just moments later as Ahki was able to race over for their fourth score, the centre given the freedom of the field as he finished off a brilliant switch back to Lebel, who picked his spot between Chiefs duo Jack Yeandle and Marcus Street.

Toulouse player ratings: Blair Kinghorn and Jack Willis shine in statement win over Exeter Chiefs

The quick one-two from Toulouse had left the Chiefs reeling, but they were floored by a knockout double as first Kinghorn finished off a stunning back move in the right corner, before the dangerous Dupont got in on the scoring act, sidestepping his way over the whitewash for another converted score.

To their credit, the Chiefs refused to go quietly, claiming a consolation score when youngster Wimbush was able to power his way through the middle following a five-metre line-out.

That would, however, be a rare highlight in a second half dominated by Toulouse, who wrapped up their victory with tries in the final quarter from Ahki and two from Mallia.

The teams

Toulouse: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Juan Cruz Mallia, 13 Paul Costes, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Matthis Lebel, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont (c), 8 Alexandre Roumat, 7 François Cros, 6 Jack Willis, 5 Emmanuel Meafou, 4 Richie Arnold, 3 Dorian Aldegheri, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 1 Cyril Baille
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Rodrigue Neti, 18 Joel Merkler, 19 Thibaud Flament, 20 Joshua Brennan, 21 Paul Graou, 22 Thomas Ramos, 23 Santiago Chocobares

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Josh Hodge, 14 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Tom Cairns, 8 Ross Vintcent, 7 Christ Tshiunza, 6 Ethan Roots, 5 Dafydd Jenkins (c), 4 Rusi Tuima, 3 Ehren Painter, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Jack Innard, 17 Danny Southworth, 18 Marcus Street, 19 Lewis Pearson, 20 Greg Fisilau, 21 Stu Townsend, 22 Will Haydon-Wood, 23 Zack Wimbush

Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Eoghan Cross (Ireland), Andy Brace (Ireland)
TMO: Mark Patton (Ireland)

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