Arch poacher Bryan Habana broke the deadlock in extra time as Toulon got the better of Leinster 25-20 in a see-saw battle of a Champions Cup Semi Final on Sunday. They will face Clermont in the final, and are on track for what would be a sensational treble.
It was far from pretty, but the tension of a European Cup semi final provided a fascinating game of rugby, one that at one stage was very close to ending with penalties.
Toulon had to dig deep, but through the boot of Leigh Halfpenny, and a very well taken intercept try by Habana, the defending champions got home, and will contest their third straight European Cup final. It will be an occasion that requires far more precision and according to the South African star, discipline.
“If we want to be contenders to win the European title, we will have to go back to the drawing board. As a team, we are going to have to look really hard at ourselves after that performance,” Habana said.
“Our discipline needs to be better and we can’t afford to make as many errors. Mentally, I think we turned up and thought it was going to be a walkover, but the game ended up being on a knife-edge.
“We have the chance to make it a special end to the season for players like Carl Hayman, Ali Williams and Bakkies Botha, who are retiring. We’ve got 80 minutes – or maybe 100 – to try to put them into the history books as legends with a third successive European win.”
For Leinster coach Matt O’Connor, it was a tough loss but he said he was proud of the effort.
“The overwhelming emotion is one of pride. The effort the lads put in was fantastic and we are obviously incredibly disappointed to come second. Habana’s intercept was the turning point – he is world-class – but the positive for us was the effort. It was second to none.
“A lot of people had written us off coming into this game, but we will back ourselves to go anywhere and beat anybody.”
Toulon face Clermont in the Champions Cup Final at Twickenham on May 2nd.
Highlights wrap below, with the option of highlights with commentary on the next page