Defending champions Toulouse qualified for the final of this year’s Heineken Cup after they defeated Biarritz Olympique, 19-11 in Bordeaux, Saturday.
Former All-Black flanker Isitolo Maka’s
second-half try saw European champions Toulouse scrape a 19-11
French rivals Biarritz in the European Cup semi-final on
become the first side to make three finals.
His try came just after their opponents had taken the lead for the
time when Philippe Bidabe had touched down but Biarritz were let down
match by French international scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili’s
placekicking as he
landed just two penalties from five attempts.
By contrast, his Toulouse counterpart Yann Delaigue had a superb
kicking 14 of their points including the last second drop goal to
wrap up the
Maka said it was a much deserved victory.
“I wasn’t on for that long, 30 minutes I think, but it is
best performance from me in this tournament,” said the
28-year-old, who was on
the bench until replacing Christian Labit in the second-half.
Toulouse captain Fabien Pelous praised Delaigue for his masterful
“He ran things today and made it possible for us to reach the
Pelous, who could add the European Cup to the Six Nations Grand Slam
France to last month.
“It was tight but I always knew it would be and it is only
Yann’s play that set us apart,” he added.
Biarritz coach Patrice Lagisquet was understandabnly disappointed
tried to take them to their first ever European Cup final.
“It is frustrating to have got to this stage and be
beaten,” he said.
“However we made too many errors and that you cannot do at
added Lagisquet, who was known as the Bayonne Express during his
Yachvili’s miserable day with the boot continued in the
Toulouse led 9-3 at half-time – as he missed an eminently kickable
minutes into the period.
However he finally slotted his second penalty three minutes later
seemed to spark life into his backs as it was from virtually their
into Toulouse territory that Bidabe was sent over by Nicolas Brusque
far corner after a flowing move.
Yachvili missed the resulting conversion while at the same moment
replaced Labit which added much-needed impetus to the attack and he
deservedly on hand to touch down having broken through two Biarritz
after a move that had been started by Delaigue’s neat sidestep.
Delaigue added the conversion to give Toulouse a 16-11 lead iwth
Delaigue gave the champions the lead in the 13th minute with a
penalty but Biarritz missed a chance to level the match five minutes
Yachvili’s penalty attempt drifted wide of the post.
He made no mistake, however, when presented with another
minutes later to tie the match at 3-3 but Delaigue then restored
lead a few minutes later.
Yachvili failed again to restore parity after 30 minutes as he
penalty wide of the posts and Delaigue hammered home their differing
by landing a third penalty on the stroke of half-time to give
Toulouse a 9-3
AFP – 2004.