Toulouse cruise into semis
Paris - Three-time Heineken Cup winners Toulouse ensured that Stade Francais' awful season continued on a suitably low note on Sunday with a deserved 42-16 victory in their quarter-final.
A superb kicking performance by former first choice France international fly-half David Skrela contributed 27 points while Toulouse also outscored their French rivals three tries to one to set up a semi-final against holders Leinster.
The other semi-final on the first weekend of May will also be a Franco-Irish affair as 2006 finalists Biarritz aim for revenge against the side that beat them in that final, two-time winners Munster.
Toulouse trailed Stade until the dying minute of the first-half when their best player of the opening period Yannick Jauzion got the better of Noel Oelschigg and burst over the line to touch down to send the hosts in 13-10 ahead at the break.
Stade had the better of the first-half - spurning several clear chances to open the scoring in the early salvoes - and deservedly took the lead in the 19th minute when captain Rodrigo Roncero scored a try.
The hooker sold a dummy pass and glided past the Toulouse defence to put them 5-0 up - Lionel Beauxis converted from in front of the posts.
Former Stade kicker David Skrela - like Beauxis seemingly a figure of the past for the French national side - landed a penalty three minutes later but Beauxis restored the seven point advantage soon afterwards.
Skrela, though, made it 10-6 with another penalty eight minutes from the half-time break before Jauzion's intervention gave them the lead for the first time.
Both Skrela and Beauxis added two penalties apiece in the first 10 minutes of the second-half to leave the hosts with a three point advantage as the final half hour approached.
Toulouse, though, deservedly put some distance between themselves and their dour and predictable opponents on the hour mark when Jauzion played a large role in setting up their second try for Patricio Albacete in a neat passing movement from inside the Stade 22.
Skrela added the conversion to give them a 10 point lead 26-16.
The imperious Skrela - who missed just one attempt at goal all match - ended any hopes of a Stade victory with a penalty 13 minutes from time to set, and converted from wide out on the left after Cedric Heymans had touched down another sweeping Toulouse move.
He added another penalty for good emasure with a minute remaining.
Toulouse' victory saw them preserve their remarkable record of winning all six European quarter-finals they have played at home and leaves Stade to ponder a trophyless season where they won't even be part of the end of term championship play-offs.