Toulon knock Leinster out of Heineken Cup

Heineken Cup champions Toulon brought an end to former champion Brian O’Driscoll’s European career when they beat Leinster 29-14 at Stade Felix Mayol on Sunday.

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.

Final Score Toulon (6) 29 Leinster (6) 14

Scorers

Toulon
Tries: Chiocci, Mitchell
Cons: Giteau 2
Pens: Wilkinson 2, Giteau 2, Armitage

Leinster
Try: Murphy
Pens: Gopperth 3

Match Officials
Referee:
Wayne Barnes (England),
Assistant ref: Greg Garner (England),
Assistant ref: Luke Pearce (England),
TMO: Graham Hughes (England),
Citing C

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