There is to be no fairytale ending to the 2018-19 season for the Kiwi trio of Ma’a Nonu, Malakai Fekitoa and Alby Mathewson at Toulon.
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.
Continue reading below
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.
Toulouse, who will welcome Jerome Kaino in August, fielded Charlie Faumuina and Joe Tekori.
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.
Captain Isa Nacewa, at second five, and James Lowe, played for Leinster in the tight 16-15 win over Rhys Marshall’s Munster.
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.
Sean Maitland’s Sarries put the cleaners through Wasps to the tune of 57-33. Jimmy Gopperth kicked two goals for Wasps, while Nathan Hughes was at No 8.
In other news:
RugbyPass has created a next generation rugby rating system, based on machine learning and shaped by game winning moments. The system (RPI) is a world first for its complexity and comprehensive embrace of northern and southern hemisphere players and teams. By using in-depth data analysis, RPI determines exactly what it takes to win, in real time. Explore the RPI now!