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Perpignan Architects Of Their Own Downfall.

Perpignan Architects Of Their Own Downfall.

While there will be very few who would deny that Toulouse fully deserved their Heineken Cup victory, nevertheless Perpignan contributed handsomely to their own defeat.

While there will be very few who would deny that Toulouse fully deserved their Heineken Cup victory, nevertheless, Perpignan contributed handsomely to their own defeat. In the end there was just a score separating the sides but Perpignan’s only try came at a time when – even if the conversion had gone over – it would not have affected the outcome.

Toulouse never reached the level of intensity that they had in the semi-final against Munster. Except in defence, they never had to. Once again they were rock solid in that department with Trevor Brennan putting in a plethora of big and important hits particularly in the opening half. Brennan was seen to good effect several times in mid-field where he simply mowed down opponents and it was in this period of the contest that the game was won and lost.

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Unfortunately for Perpignan their play-maker in chief, Manny Edmond had a shocker. His distribution was painfully slow and his decision making was none too clever either, opting on one occasion for a line-out from a penalty when a three pointer was on offer.

Then, when Yannick Jauzion ran through him in the 32nd minute it resulted in the Toulousetry, a score from Vincent Clerc that put the eventual winners 16 points clear. That try started with a brilliant one-handed line-out steal by Jean Bouilhou and again, the line-out was an area where Perpignan let themselves down badly.

Toulouse did of course make the absolute most of their opportunities and it was a day when their place-kicker, Yann Delaigue was in superb form. The out-half landed a marvellous touchline conversion of Clerc’s try in the first half with a difficult wind blowing into his back but he reserved his most important effort for the end.

His side were leading by just a single score (19-12) and under pressure inside their own 22 when they managed to breakout and take play to the Perpignan 22. They were awarded a penalty close to the touchline and Delaigue – this time with the wind blowing into his face – knocked it over to stretch the gap to 10 points. With about three minutes of added time to play, Toulouse were home if not quite hosed.

In what was to be the final play of the match, Edmonds finally conjured up the type of wizardry that has earned him Man of the Match awards countless times in this season’s competition. He took a pass from Ludovic Loustau and right-footed, angled a kick-ahead off the outside of his boot to totally wrong-foot the Toulouse defence and leave Pascal Bomati the simple act of gathering the bounce to score. Edmonds’ conversion attempt struck the upright and the way his day had gone, that was no surprise.

To the victors and spoils and desevedly so. They set out their stall early, established a respectable lead with the wind at their backs and then set about defending that lead with the sort of ruthless defence that they exhibited in the semi-final. By the time their line fell the Heineken Cup was already in their grasp.