Harlequins' stirring second-half fightback comes in vain as Toulouse reach Champions Cup final

Harlequins' stirring second-half fightback comes in vain as Toulouse reach Champions Cup final

Toulouse thwarted a thrilling Harlequins fightback to triumph 38-26 and book an Investec Champions Cup final clash against fellow European heavyweights Leinster.

The competition's two most successful teams, who boast nine titles between them, will go head-to-head at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 25 but Toulouse had to survive a major scare on home soil after Quins threatened to overhaul a 31-12 deficit at half-time.

Harlequins, playing in the Champions Cup semi-finals for the first time, showcased their exhilarating attacking adventure through tries from Marcus Smith, Cadan Murley, Will Evans and Tyrone Green, while Smith kicked three conversions.

Toulouse could not relax until wing Juan Cruz Mallia's 69th-minute touchdown - it immediately followed a yellow card for Quins hooker Jack Walker - and came after earlier tries from Antoine Dupont (2), Matthis Lebel, Peato Mauvaka and Thibaud Flament, with Blair Kinghorn adding three conversions and Thomas Ramos one.

Toulouse blasted out of the blocks and were ahead after just four minutes following a lineout steal deep inside Quins' 22, with Romain Ntamack's long, floated pass giving Lebel an unopposed run to the line.

Ntamack and Dupont freely delved into their box of tricks, and it took Quins 12 minutes to emerge from their own half, such had been Toulouse's dominance, but they responded brilliantly.

Toulouse were shunted onto the back foot as Quins attacked with Smith weaving his way through three defenders for a try that he also converted.

Quins were then undone by Toulouse's power game, though, as a precision lineout drive was finished by Mauvaka. But Quins drew level when Evans touched down following a lineout surge before Flament put his team back in front.

Toulouse's third try was scored after Danny Care's pass bounced off flanker Chandler Cunningham-South but there was nothing fortunate about try number four as Toulouse attacked from deep through centre Paul Costes' majestic break, and his well-judged kick into space was gathered by Dupont.

Dupont struck again four minutes later, this time the beneficiary of outstanding work by Mauvaka as the hosts secured an imposing 19-point interval advantage.

Quins needed a lifeline early in the second period, and it arrived after 46 minutes when Smith's long pass found Murley, and his acrobatic finish created a glimmer of hope.

It got even better seven minutes later as another brilliant score was carved out by Murley before Care's pass sent Green over, with Smith's conversion leaving Quins within striking distance.

But Toulouse then reasserted themselves, helped by Walker's yellow card, and he had barely left the pitch before Mallia struck, with Ramos' conversion putting Quins under huge pressure.

There was no way back for the visitors, as English interest in this season's tournament was ended after a memorable 10-try spectacle.

Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care, speaking to ITV Sport:

"We messed up in the first half - we gave them too many points - and unfortunately it was too much to claw back, even for us.

"They are a brilliant team, world-class, but we've shown we can go toe to toe with one of the very best in Europe. We back ourselves against anyone."

Toulouse' flanker Jack Willis:

"It was a pretty tense one. Quins threw everything at us and we really had to put our best out there.

"I grew up watching these [Challenge Cup] finals with my dad and brother, and to now be involved in one is pretty incredible. We have got an incredible opponent in Leinster, and we have got to go there and chuck everything at it."

It's one of the biggest sporting events in a generation. Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk collide for the undisputed world heavyweight title on Saturday May 18, live on Sky Sports Box Office. Book now.

Stream Sky Sports live with no contract on a Month or Day membership on NOW. Instant access to live action from the Premier League and EFL, plus darts, cricket, tennis, golf and so much more.

You can now receive messages and alerts for the latest breaking sports news, analysis, in-depth features and videos from our dedicated WhatsApp channel. Find out more here...

Recomended Posts

Leave a Comment

© 2024 - [[Sports123~Watch Free Live Sports Stream]] - All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: This site does not store any files on its server. All contents are provided by non-affiliated third parties.