Toulon dismiss Leinster

2014-04-06 21:05
Delon Armitage (AFP)

Paris - Defending champions Toulon ran out comfortable 29-14 winners over three-time former champions Leinster on Sunday to set up a European Cup semi-final against Munster.

In a scene set for a match-up between two of rugby union's greatest players in Jonny Wilkinson and Brian O'Driscoll, the English fly-half limped off injured before the half-hour and the Irish centre's attacking prowess was snuffled out by a ferocious Toulon midfield.

Toulon will now face Munster, 47-23 quarter-final winners over Toulouse, at Marseille's Stade Velodrome on April 27. A day earlier, Saracens, 17-15 victors over Ulster, will host Clermont, 22-16 victors over Leicester, at Twickenham in the first semi-final.

In southern France, the sides were level at 6-6 at half-time after two penalties apiece by Wilkinson and Jimmy Gopperth.

But Toulon scored two second-half tries through prop Xaiver Chiocci and Australian winger Drew Mitchell, both converted by Matt Giteau, who also got two penalties, along with a long-range Delon Armitage effort. Leinster's sole response was a third Gopperth penalty before a late Jordi Murphy try.

The expensively-assembled Toulon side, with Springbok winger Bryan Habana on the bench, opened up with an ominous display of their power play, rewarded with a Wilkinson penalty after three minutes.

Leinster were in full scramble defence, full-back Rob Kearney pulling off a crucial intercept and O'Driscoll also clearing under the onslaught.

Wilkinson knocked over his second penalty on 17 minutes at the packed Felix-Mayol Stadium under clear skies and sunny conditions.

Leinster's uncapped Kiwi fly-half Gopperth pulled back a penalty with Toulon's scrum under the cosh just minutes later.

Wilkinson limped off with a heavily bandaged right leg after 27 minutes, 92-time capped Wallaby Giteau moving into 10 with Maxime Mermoz slotting into midfield.

Gopperth was on hand to fire over a second penalty to draw the scores level, Giteau going wide with a long-range effort.

Despite the summer-like weather, both sides were guilty of committing numerous handling errors in a mistake-ridden, tension-filled game.

Giteau kicked a 50-metre penalty to open the scoring in the second period after a turnover in midfield by prop Chiocci.

After a charge by Toulon's irrepressible South African hooker Craig Burden past Devin Toner, Chiocci was eventually driven over from close range for a deserved try Giteau converted.

Gopperth then missed a penalty, but nailed one a minute later after Chiocci attempted another turnover.

But Toulon's power again showed through, outstanding English No 8 Steffon Armitage charging through, Mathieu Basteraud taking it up the middle and Mitchell finishing off, Giteau again on target with the extras.

Delon Armitage then hit a surprise 52-metre penalty shortly before Leinster replacement Murphy was driven over for a try in the corner with 10 minutes to play.

Giteau had the final word with another penalty as Toulon ran out comfortable winners.

Read more on:    heineken cup  |  rugby

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