Toulon, French Top 14 champions in 2014 and three-time former European champions (2013-15) drew 19-all with Lyon in the Top 14 playoffs at Stade Mayol, but will not progress to the semifinal on the first try rule. The visitors scored the opening try of the clash, which went to extra time.
Nonu, who turns 36 today, but is keen to extend his career, was yellow carded but was otherwise in compelling attacking form, setting up what should have been a try to former England wing Chris Ashton, who duffed the simple regather from a grubber.
Fekitoa, who has scored seven tries since his November debut, and Mathewson, both featured from the bench.
For Lyon, which has not won the top flight championship since 1933, Mike Harris slotted three key goals, while fullback Toby Arnold scored a try. Rudi Wulf (13) and Taiasina Tuifua (8) also turned out for Le LOU. Lyon’s reward is a semifinal trip to Vern Cotter’s Montpellier, for whom Aaron Cruden will run the cutter.
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In the other semifinal, Castres will travel to Paris to meet Racing-Metro after the south-west club tipped over bigger neighbours Toulouse 23-11. Maama Vaipulu and David Smith started for the victors, while Alex Tulou and Paea Fa’anunu added impact off the bench.
Wayne Pivac’s charges defeated Dave Rennie’s Glasgow Warriors 28-13 in the semis, with Johnny McNicholl and Hadleigh Parkes starting in the backline. Callum Gibbins and Siua Halanukonuka appeared for Glasgow.
In the Champions Cup playoff, Sean Reidy’s Ulster beat Ma’afu Fia’s Ospreys 35-17, but there was no happy ending to Charlie Piutau’s Ulster career. The former All Blacks wing, about to take up a lucrative deal with Bristol in the 2018-19 Aviva Premiership, was a very late withdrawal from the Ulster line-up.
England’s Aviva Premiership final will, as expected see defending champs Exeter face down Saracens. Thomas Waldrom’s Chiefs battered Newcastle 36-5 in the first semifinal. The Falcons fielded Sinoti Sinoti, Nili Latu and Tane Takalua.
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