Sexton ends Toulouse’s 20 year run in Top14

Ireland flyhalf Jonny Sexton kicked seven penalties from seven attempts to give Racing-Metro a 21-16 win over Toulouse in the French Top 14 quarter-final play-offs on Friday.

Defeat meant Toulouse’s run of 20 successive semi-final appearances came to an end while Sexton’s perfect display handed Racing a first ever last-four date and a clash with European champions Toulon next weekend.

It was also revenge for a Racing side who had lost 33-19 to the same opponents at the same venue in the quarter-finals 12 months ago.

“We were saying that we felt a little cursed in the play-offs. These last four years we had made the play-offs but had not won a game,” said Racing centre Henry Chavancy.

“We stood together tonight. We showed that Racing are a band of brothers.”

Toulouse captain Thierry Dusautoir said he felt devastated that the club’s run had come to an end.

“It’s a huge disappointment after playing in the semi-finals for 20 years. On the game itself, we tried to up the intensity in the second half, but left it too late.”

Racing had led 12-3 at the interval thanks to four successful penalty kicks from the deadly accurate boot of Sexton.

Toulouse, meanwhile, struggled to get a foothold in the game as coach Guy Noves’ plan of switching former All Black Luke McAlister into the centre from his usual fly-half slot for the first time since August appeared to be backfiring.

Toulouse’s hopes were also dented when French international centre Florian Fritz suffered a serious head wound after a collision with the knee of Racing’s South African lock Francois van der Merwe.

With blood gushing from his head, Fritz stumbled to the ground as he left the pitch for treatment.

Toulouse soon got over the disruption when they grabbed the game’s only try in the opening moments of the second half.

McAlister played a clever kick over the Racing defensive line where the ball fell comfortably into the hands of fellow Kiwi Hosea Gear.

The winger touched down for his ninth score of the season with Jean-Marc Doussain adding the extras for 10-12.

Toulouse nipped ahead at 13-12 when Doussain popped over a penalty awarded when Racing full back Julien Brugnaut was penalised for a dangerous tackle on McAlister.

Sexton and Doussain exchanged penalties as Racing went into a 18-16 lead.

But the Toulouse fly-half, playing in that position for only the third time in the Top 14, went wide with another attempt which would have put his team back in front with 15 minutes left.

Sexton showed him how to do it with a seventh successful penalty two minutes from times with a 41-metre kick.

On Saturday, Clermont take on defending champions Castres with the winners to meet Montpellier in the semi-finals.

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