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

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

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


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

Try: Murphy
Pens: Gopperth 3

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

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