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Heineken Cup – Stade Francais, Toulouse Final

25th April 2005 By Munster Rugby

Heineken Cup – Stade Francais, Toulouse Final

Toulouse qualified for their third successive Heineken Cup final when they defeated Leicester Tigers 27-19 at Walkers Stadium on Sunday. Stade Francais defeated Biarritz on Saturday

Toulouse qualified for their third successive Heineken Cup final when they defeated Leicester Tigers 27-19 at Walkers Stadium on Sunday. Twenty four hours earlier, Stade Francais snatched victory in controversial fashion when they scored the match winning try eight mintes into injury time to defeat Biarritz 20-17.

And if match official Tony Spreadburycame in for criticism in Paris, there was also dismay in Leicester over the manner in which Toulouse scored the game’s defining try.

It came at the stage of the game when Toulouse held a slender 10-9 lead with commentators and pundits agreeing that the next score would prove crucial.

And so it did. When Toulouse ended a bout of aerial ping-pong with a counter-attack, Vincent Clerc slipped a pass to Yannick Jauzion in open space. Jauzion had Jean-Baptiste Elissalde screaming up on the outside. The pass was clearly forward and while referee Alain Rolland – who had a good game – was not in a position to see it, touch-judge Donal Courtney was.

Nevertheless, Elissalde swiched on the after-burners and romped in under the posts.

Now with a two-score cushion, Touoluse were able to play with a greater degree of composure and they saw out the rest of the game without any great difficulty.

Leicester will look back on that incident in the 50th minute and feel harshly done-by. However, they will also rue the missed opportunities in the second quarter when they really should have scoed at least two tries.

With Toulouse defending desperately on their own line, Ollie Smith and then Darren Morris spilled ball with men outside.

Then, just before the break, Leicester were awarded a penalty ten metres out, but they opted to go for goal – Goode missed – when a lineout and drive might have yielded a greater and possibly more wounding return.

Overall however, victory went to the side who deserved it most and now Toulouse and Trevor Brennan head for Murrayfield and the opportuniy to atone for the heartbreak of last year’s final.

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