Toulon advance to Top 14 Final

Date published: June 18 2016

Toulon booked their place in the Top 14 Final after claiming a 27-18 victory over Montpellier in their semi-final in Rennes on Saturday.

Both sides crossed for two tries with Toulon full-back Leigh Halfpenny finishing with a 17-point haul after slotting five penalties and a conversion.

On the balance of play, Toulon deserve this win as they had the better of the territorial and possession stakes although Montpellier deserve credit for the way they battled back after Toulon held an 18-point lead early in the second half.

In the end, Halfpenny's goalkicking proved decisive and his accuracy from the kicking tee helped set up a date with Racing 92 in the final in Barcelona next weekend.

The first half was evenly contested and Toulon held a slender 9-6 lead by the opening quarter, after Halfpenny added three penalties with Montpellier's points coming via the boot of Demetri Catrakilis.

The next 10 minutes was an attritional affair as both sides gave their all in a bid to gain the ascendancy but Josua Tuisova gave Toulon the lead in the 31st minute when he got over for the opening try after running onto a long passs from Ma'a Nonu deep inside Montpellier's 22.

Toulon maintaned that lead at half-time but secured this win thanks to an impressive 10 minute period after the restart, when they scored 10 unanswered points.

Three minutes after half-time, Nonu extended his side's lead when he crossed for their second try in trademark fashion. The former All Black ran onto a pass from Halfpenny, just inside Montpellier's half, and showed great strength and determination to shrug off the attentions of Jesse Mogg before diving over.

Halfpenny added the extras and made it 24-6 when he added another penalty four minutes later. Montpellier upped the ante and were soon rewarded when  Mogg barged over from close quarters in the 54th minute and four minutes later he intercepted a wayward Toulon pass on the halfway line before crossing for his second five-pointer.

Catrakilis converted the second try, which meant Toulon led 24-18, but Montpellier couldn't add to their tally. Halfpenny kicked another penalty in the 65th minute, which gave Touloun a nine-point lead and they did well to keep Montpellier at bay during the closing stages to advance to the final. 

The scorers:

For Toulon:
Tries: Tuisova, Nonu
Con: Halfpenny
Pens: Halfpenny 5

For Montpellier:
Mogg 2
Con: Catrakilis 
Pens: Catrakilis 2

Toulon: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Maxime Mermoz, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Jonathan Pelissie, 8 Steffon Armitage, 7 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 6 Mamuka Gorgodze, 5 Konstantin Mikautadze, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Levan Chilachava, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Xavier Chiocci 
Replacements: 16 Jean Charles Orioli, 17 Florian Fresia, 18 Romain Taofifenua, 19 Virgile Bruni, 20 Mathieu Bastareaud, 21 Delon Armitage, 22 Frederic Michalak, 23 Manasa Saulo

Montpellier: 15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Anthony Tuitavake, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Jesse Mogg, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Benoit Paillaugue, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Jacques Du Plessis, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck Du Plessis, 1 Mikheil
Replacements: 16 Mickael Ivaldi, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Robins Tchale-Watchou, 19 Wian Liebenberg, 20 Nic White, 21 Ben Lucas, 22 Marvin O'Connor, 23 Davit Kubriashvili

Referee: Romain Poite