James ends Noves hopes of farewell title

2015-06-06 19:15
Morgan Parra (AFP)

Bordeaux - Australian flyhalf Brock James came off the bench to kick a penalty and drop goal as Clermont turned in a late burst to defeat Toulouse 18-14 in the French Championship semi-finals on Saturday.

The defeat denied Toulouse a chance to win a record-extending 20th domestic title and also ended the reign of mythical coach and manager Guy Noves who will take over as coach of France following this year's World Cup.

Noves won two championships as a player with Toulouse and ten titles at the helm of France's biggest club as well as four European titles.

Clermont will now meet Stade Francais in the final at Stade de France on June 13 after the capital club stunned defending champions Toulon 33-16 on Friday.

Clermont won their only French title in 2010 after finishing runners-up on ten previous occasions.

Toulon defeated Clermont 24-18, for the second time in three years to win a third consecutive European title at Twickenham, on May 2 but fell short in a bid for a second double in a row against a rampant Stade Francais side, also in Bordeaux.

At Bordeaux's brand new 42 000 capacity stadium, French international scrumhalf Morgan Parra kicked the opening points in the match when he slotted the first of three first-half penalities in the fourth minute.

Former All Black Luke McAlister briefly levelled the match at 3-3 before Parra chipped over two more scores to carry Clermont into a 9-6 half-time lead after Toulouse had pulled within three points with five minutes left in the opening period.

However some sustained early pressure from Toulouse provided the first try of the match as a line-out deep in Clermont territory was recycled wide for winger Maxim Medard to touch down in the corner.

A missed conversion left Toulouse 11-9 in front before Clermont answered back minutes later to regain the lead thanks to Parra's fourth penalty of the match.

Both teams neutralised each other in a midfield battle of the forwards but Toulouse won an all-important penalty with 17 minutes left that McAlister slotted between the posts as Noves' men again took the lead 14-12.

Clermont hammered away in attack, and despite Parra being forced off injured, James kicked a crucial three pointer from the sidelines to regain the advantage 15-14 with nine minutes to go.

As Toulouse attempted to fight their way out of their own half, a turnover set up the 33-year-old James to smash over the drop goal that settled the match with six minutes to go.

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