Toulouse reach first Champions Cup final in 11 years with low-frills win over Bordeaux
Toulouse reached their first Heineken Champions Cup final since 2010 as they saw off Top 14 rivals Bordeaux-Begles 21-9 at Stade Ernest Wallon. Matthis Lebel scored an early try and Antoine Dupont another late on en route to the hosts securing a seventh appearance in the final of a competition they have won four times.
The French giants will now face the winners of Sunday’s clash between La Rochelle and Leinster in a showdown at Twickenham on May 22. Semi-final debutants Bordeaux took the lead in the third minute of the contest through a Matthieu Jalibert penalty.
Toulouse replied two minutes later with Lebel receiving the ball from Maxime Medard, evading two tackles and diving over to make it 5-3. Another Jalibert penalty nudged the visitors back in front around the midway point of the first half before one from Romain Ntamack ensured it was Toulouse with the advantage heading into the break.
That advantage was extended via Ntamack adding further penalties in the 45th and 64th minutes. Jalibert subsequently brought it back to a one-score game with one more of his own in the 68th.
But the gap soon widened again as Dupont crossed with eight minutes to go, with Ntamack adding the conversion, in what proved the final say. Toulouse won the trophy in 2010 having also done so in 1996, 2003 and 2005, while they were runners-up in 2004 and 2008.
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Toulouse, though, will face an anxious wait to see if skipper Julien Marchand is cited for what ex-Lions skippers Brian O’Driscoll and Sam Warburton described as the “reddest of red cards”. The BT Sport pundits were incensed in the aftermath of the semi-final that a blatant 57th-minute Marchand shoulder to the head of Romain Buros went unpunished as the footage of the collision was missed by the officials.
The victors were only leading 11-6 at the time and a red card for their skipper Marchand at that juncture could have swung momentum the way of Bordeaux and helped them reach their first-ever European final.
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