The visitors went into Friday’s quarter-final having upset the odds by getting there and a victory over the imposing force of Toulon at their Stade Mayol home was considered to be beyond them.
That proved to be the case as 80 minutes and two extra-time periods failed to separate the sides, but Lyon’s dream season continues as their more clinical attacking play proved the difference in a pulsating encounter.
Two second-half tries in the space of five minutes booked a semi-final clash with Montpellier, who finished the regular season top, Toby Arnold and Dylan Cretin crossing to keep alive their hopes of a first French title since 1933.
Lyon capitalised on missed opportunities from the hosts to lead 6-3 at half-time, Mike Harris slotting over a penalty after Anthony Belleau missed from the tee and again following a Chris Ashton knock-on with the line at his mercy.
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Belleau added a three-pointer before the break after Lyon’s Julien Puricelli was sin-binned for a high tackle, but another Toulon opportunity went begging when the TMO chalked off a Semi Radradra try as he was ruled to have been tackled before he stretched over the line.
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However, Belleau then levelled matters with the boot before a stunning Mathieu Bastareaud offload sent Ashton free to make amends and score the game’s first try.
Belleau converted and, even though Xavier Mignot collected Harris’ cross-field kick to set up Arnold for Lyon’s response, the game appeared to be turning the home side’s way as Harris missed the conversion and Francois Trinh-Duc restored breathing room with a penalty.
However, Lyon refused to go quietly and Cretin dummied his way in for a long-range try, Toulon’s appeals for obstruction ignored by the TMO, though Harris again failed with the conversion.
Trinh-Duc missed a drop-goal that would have won it for Toulon in normal time but it was he who nudged them ahead in extra time from the tee.
Yet in the 88th minute Ma’a Nonu was sin-binned for tackling without the arms and five minutes later Harris converted the decisive penalty, a last-gasp surge from Toulon in vain as Lyon forced turnover ball to clinch a famous triumph.
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