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Page last updated at 11:06 GMT, Sunday, 6 April 2008 12:06 UK
Heineken Cup quarter-finals
5-6 April, 2008


Saracens 19-10 Ospreys FT

Toulouse 41-17 Cardiff Blues FT


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By Ben Dirs

FULL-TIME: Toulouse 41-17 Blues
Now that's what I call cheek - Toulouse run the clock down before shipping it to Heymans and the full-back lands a drop-goal from just inside the Blues half. The Blues were in that match for a while, but they allowed Toulouse too much freedom and there's only going to be one winner when a team does that. Toulouse now face London Irish in a semi-final at Twickenham and the three-time champions look like they have what it takes to win it again.

77 mins: TRY Toulouse 38-17 Blues
Toulouse crank through the phases before opening up a chink. Lovely reverse flick from Kelleher and Jauzion puts Bouihlou over in the right corner. A very tight space, but he only had to trot it over.

74 mins: Elissalde is replaced and receives a rousing ovation from the Toulouse faithful. I think it's fair to say he answered any doubts about his ability to play at number 10. Courrent is the new fly-half.

71 mins: TRY Toulouse 33-17 Blues
Medard shows dancer's feet, skating through the midfield before offloading to Ablacate. The lock then carries 20 yards before the ball is shipped left and finished off by Clerc on the left wing. Class, and Elissalde adds the two points.

66 mins: TRY Toulouse 26-17 Blues
That's a superb try from the Blues in retaliation, Jamie Robinson taking a missed pass and switching with Blair, who slices through the middle and touches down under the posts. Blair adds the conversion and the Blues aren't out of this yet.

63 mins: TRY Toulouse 26-10 Blues
That's a class try from the hosts. First, Clerc snaffles a bomb and makes ground before Elissalde switches play and shovels the ball wide to Heymans, who shows the ball before putting Kunavore over in the right corner. Not a great deal the Blues could have done about that. Elissalde adds the conversion and that's shortly enough for Toulouse.

61 mins: Good box kick from Kelleher, but Spice rams it back down Heymans' throat. Heymans sends out a wild pass, Medard is nailed by Martyn Williams, but that's magnificent from Clerc, finding touch with an outside-of-the-boot clearance under pressure.

59 mins: PENALTY Toulouse 19-10 Blues
The Blues are penalised by Wayne Barnes for collapsing a brutal maul from Toulouse and Elissalde clips over the penalty. The Blues front five being terrorised at the moment.

58 mins: Trickery from Elissalde, showing and going before sending it wide to Clerc. Clerc chips through and touches down, but the ball took a deflection off the corner flag.

56 mins: The natives go berserk again after Martyn Williams puts a big hit on Kelleher and the referee awards a scrum to the visitors. Signs of nerves perhaps?

54 mins: Great kick from Kelleher from the base of the scrum, the ball running into touch deep into the Blues half. Medard half-breaks and pirouettes before Heymans comes screaming into the line, but his offload goes to ground.

51 mins: Referee Wayne Barnes getting plenty of flak from the locals as Albacete is pinged, correctly, for a knock-on. Tito is replaced by Scott Morgan in the Blues second row, and the visitors' line-out is beginning to creak.

48 mins: Clerc runs back a Blues clearance and almost punches through, but is snaffled by second row Deiniol Jones. Too much fannying about by Toulouse in midfield and Blues get the ball back, but Shanklin once again knocks on. Not having a great game the Wales centre.

45 mins: The Blues burgle the line-out and earn a scrum. Flanagan with a cute chip and Clerc is unable to get a grip on the ball and Heymans is forced to run across and hack into touch. Gareth Williams receives the ball at line-out, but is unable to barrell his way down the blind-side and is pushed into touch. Elissalde limping.

44 mins: Lovely reverse pass from Jauzion and Kunavore blasts through the first man before Blair knocks the ball out of his hand in the tackle. Shanklin gets rid of it and Toulouse have a line-out on halfway.

41 mins: The second half is under way and Heymans tries out Blair with a nasty up-and-under which Blair does well to field. Nice hands from Toulouse in the back-line, but Clerc's box kick runs dead. Spice re-enters the fray after his spell in the bin.

HALF-TIME: Toulouse 16-10 Blues
That's the half-time whistle and after a stormy start for the Blues, they've managed to get themselves back into it and are still well-placed with 40 minutes remaining. Big half from Martyn Williams, who was all over the park seemingly playing in every position. You have to say, however, that the hosts are good value for their lead.

37 mins: Flanagan stays deep for the drop-goal, but Martyn Williams is unable to find him with his scrum-half pass. He does have a poke from the next phase, but pushes his attempt just wide.

34 mins: Blues prop Gethin Jenkins is on the deck with his left leg up after a hit on Nyanga, but he's able to continue. Great stuff from Martyn Williams - first he fills in at scrum-half, then he takes a high-ball and evades the tackle from Clerc before just missing touch with his clearance. He then makes a fine turnover tackle and the Blues end up with a penalty after some tit-for-tat between Pelous and Tito. Great kick from Flanagan, deep into Toulouse territory.

30 mins: Another mistake from Shanklin, knocking on in midfield, and Cardiff pay the penalty. Flanagan's kick is charged down by Nyanga, who kicks through and is pulled down just short of the line by Blair. However, Jason Spice is sin-binned for hands in the ruck and it's 14 against 14. Elissalde, however, pulls his penalty wide.

28 mins: DROP-GOAL Toulouse 16-10 Blues
One man down and Toulouse do the intelligent thing - get down the other end, get the ball to Elissalde and pop over three points. Cheeky smile from Elissalde, by God did he like that.

27 mins: PENALTY Toulouse 13-10 Blues
Almost a try for the Blues - Heymans throws out a wild pass, Roberts pounces and offloads to Shanklin, but the barrelling centre is unable to hurdle the man in front of him and comes up just short. However, Heymans then goes digging in the ruck and takes a hit for the team - yellow card and Blair chips over the three points.

25 mins: Gareth Thomas chips through and Clerc half-fumbles before hoofing clear. But that's poor from the Blues, another pass going awry and Gareth Williams just managing to get in the way of Jauzion's hack through. More deft handling from Toulouse before Gethin Jenkins breaks up the fun with a big hit on Medard.

23 mins: PENALTY Toulouse 13-7 Blues
Hands in the ruck from the Blues and Elissalde makes them pay with a straight-forward penalty kick from in front of the posts.

21 mins: Lovely broken-field running from Toulouse, Heymans and Medard with some lovely half-breaks and off-the-shoulder passes and the Blues are very nearly punished when Spice is almost caught out by a kick through from Clerc.

18 mins: TRY Toulouse 10-7 Blues
And the Blues are right back in it. Magnificent, bullocking run from James down the left wing after an offload from Shanklin, James flips it back inside to Shanklin and scrum-half Jason Spice slithers over from the resulting ruck. Blair adds the extras, just three points in it.

15 mins: The Blues trying things in attack, but Flanagan shows impatience, attempting to float a pass out wide to Shanklin and Clerc very nearly intercepting. That was very nearly another length-of-the-field try.

14 mins: Second row Paul Tito is on the deck and getting some ice treatment on his knee...but he is soon up on his feet. Important player for the Blues is Tito, they won't want him going off.

12 mins: Lock Albacete comes in from the side and Flanagan makes the most of the respite, sending his penalty kick deep into Toulouse territory. Martyn Williams spots some space down the blind-side, but is dragged into touch.

10 mins: The Blues have steadied themselves after the early blows and the game is already becoming stretched, both sides happy to have a go from deep. Class from Clerc, showing the ball before punting deep.

7 mins: Better from the Blues, Flanagan with a deft chip over the top, Shanklin picking up the ball and Martyn Williams joining the line. Toulouse send in the cover defence, but not without giving up a penalty. However, Blair is unable to add the extras, hooking his attempt left of the posts.

4 mins: PENALTY Toulouse 10-0 Blues
Cardiff concede a penalty on the halfway line and Elissalde bangs the three points straight between the uprights. Clinical start from the hosts, already an uphill struggle for the visitors.

1 min: TRY Toulouse 7-0 Blues
Cardiff get the game under way...and Toulouse have scored! The Blues shovel the ball left, but Shanklin's attempted grubber comes off the shins of Kunavore, who spots space and kicks through for Medard to sprint clear and touch down next to the posts. Elissalde adds the extras and that's exactly what the Blues didn't need.

1458: A sell-out 37,000 crowd in Toulouse and the ears of the Blues players get a roasting as they make their way on the pitch. It's rocking and rolling and the natives expect.

1455: Right, we're not done yet - Toulouse host the Blues and that all kicks off in about 15 minutes. Toulouse team news is that France scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde makes way for New Zealander Byron Kelleher and moves to 10. Many see that as a weakness. Behind the scrum they will have Yannick Jauzion running midfield, while Cedric Heymans and Vincent Clerc offer the cutting edge. In the pack, Dusatoir and Pelous are the standouts. Martyn Williams could be the key player for Cardiff Blues - he's been immense this season - while they will be looking to Gethin Jenkins to do some damage in the engine room and Shanklin to make some yards in midfield.

80 mins: FULL-TIME: Saracens 19-10 Ospreys
Shane Williams's sidesteps become more and more ludicrous - he sends three Saracens players flying with three off his left peg but is eventually hauled down. And that's that, the final whistle goes and Saracens are deservedly through to the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup. Massive effort from the hosts and a disappointing one from Ospreys. Old heads Richard Hill and Kris Chesney were magnificent, as too were the youngsters, Haughton, Powell and Barrell. A special mention too for Glen Jackson, who was inspired at number 10. A semi-final against Munster in Coventry awaits.

78 mins: DROP GOAL Saracens 19-10 Ospreys
With most people expecting Jackson to attempt the drop-goal, he instead ships it wide. But he does have a stab on the next phase and his low, scudding effort makes it between the posts. Surely that's game, set and match Saracens.

74 mins: TRY Saracens 16-10 Ospreys
Relentless defence from the hosts and Ospreys just cannot find a way through. Hook is sent reeling backwards by Powell before Ryan Jones very nearly wriggles through. But Paul James does eventually find a way through, punching through a despairing tackle from Barrell and just managing to touch the ball down. Hook adds the extras and the Opsreys are alive.

72 mins: Bishop, on for Henson, should have made the most of numbers but is nailed by De Kock. Ospreys then go through six or seves phases before referee Alan Lewis awards them a scrum five yards short.

70 mins: Once again an unforced error from the Ospreys undermines an attack - this time it's Hook with the poor pass and Williams lets it ricochet off his knee and into touch. All looking very panicked now from the Welshmen.

66 mins: Hook eases the pressure for Ospreys, giving it some hammer and finding touch deep in the Saracens half. Leonelli can't continue and is replaced by Rauluni. The Fiji skipper replaces De Kock at scrum-half and De Kock moves to right wing.

63 mins: Marshall is having something of a shocker here - another poor pass is intercepted by Jackson and the Sarries number 10 carries the ball clear. Yet another turnover from Saracens after a hit by substitute Barrell and they ship the ball to Leonelli, but the Argentine is unable to shrug off Shane Williams. The Sarries replacements are playing a big part here, Leonelli, Barrell and Powell all making an impact since their introduction.

60 mins: Jackson getting a little bit carried away, spinning the ball right from beneath his own posts, but it works out well for Saracens - Williams looks to have injured himself running the ball back from the resulting clearance.

58 mins: PENALTY Saracens 16-3 Ospreys
Jackson knocks over the three points and gives the hosts a 13-point lead. Henson is limping after that hit from Powell, which may explain why he missed the tackle on Jackson .

57 mins: De Kock darts down the blind-side but is tackled five yards short of the line. Saracens send the ball left, Jackson dummies and scythes through the line, but his pass to Haughton is deliberately knocked on by Lee Byrne. Cynical, and Alan Lewis sends him to the bin.

54 mins: And another turnover - Marshall dwelling too long on the ball and allowing Powell to swarm all over Gavin Henson. Jackson showing splendid skills with the boot and finding plenty of ground from the resulting penalty. Young Powell is having a good game, both in defence and attack.

52 mins: Saracens think they've scored another try in the right corner, Vyvyan barrelling over but Tiatia geting his hands under the ball and managing to prevent the try. The impressive Gastard is off with an arm injury, replaced by Donald Barrell.

49 mins: Jackson puts an attempted clearance straight down the throat of Williams and the left-winger darts past a couple of tacklers. However, Saracans turn the ball over again, Powell putting in a fine tackle on Parker, stealing the ball and sending Sorrell clear. Leonelli is dragged down on the right flank, but Ospreys are at sixes and sevens at the moment, they're in serious danger of drowning.

47 mins: Hook gets a penalty on the halfway line but opts to kick for touch. Deft hands from Henson, flipping the ball inside to Parker, and the centre makes a rare half-break. But after a few phases, another Ospreys attack peters out after a dropped ball. You get the feeling this might not be their day...

45 mins: No doubt about it, this is a crisis for Ospreys. The mistakes continue to flow from the Welsh side, first Marshall and then Parker knocking on, and Saracens are swarming them, that's the only word for it.

42 mins: TRY Saracen 13-3 Ospreys What a stroke of luck for Saracens that is, extraordinary scenes. De Kock looks to have made a right nause-up up his clearance, but Holah's big right mitt deflects the ball into the path of the flying Leonelli and the Argentine runs 60 yards to score in the right corner. Jackson swings his conversion in from the touch-line and Ospreys are in a spot of bother at Vicarage Road.

HALF-TIME: Saracens 6-3 Ospreys
Fabulous first half that, my fingertips are burning. Saracens extremely aggressive and competitive at the gain line and forcing Ospreys on their heels. The odd spark from the Ospreys backs, and this is going to be a humdinger of a second half.

39 mins: Deary, deary me, Hook's made himself look like a right wally there - inexplicably, he attempts to take a high kick behind his back, fumbles it, and then slices his clearance. If you're going to give it bunches, you better make sure you pull it off - Lyn Jones will rip his head off at half-time. Saracens take the quick tap, Haughton snakes past a couple of despairing tackles and Visagie very nearly ends up scoring next to the uprights...but comes up just short.

34 mins: Sweet little chip from Hook to Shane Williams on the left wing, but Richard Hill, who appears to have taken it upon himself to nail Williams whenever he receives the ball, swats him like a fly. What a gnarled old hooligan Richard Hill is, and I mean that in the nicest way possible.

31 mins: Brent Russell is off, so Haughton moves to full-back and Leonelli takes his place on the wing. Coruscating counter-attack from Ospreys, Williams starting the move off but Lee Byrne unable to take Henson's perfectly acceptable pass on the left wing. Farrell is off, Adam Powell takes his place. Not sure that's any loss for the hosts, Farrell has been pretty ordinary so far.

29 mins: Haughton has a one-on-one with Williams, but the little man's defence is solid and the cover defence is even better. Haughton then goes on a mazy run, shaking his hips and ghosting past four or five defenders, but his final pass goes to ground.

24 mins: Farrell's kick on his own try-line is charged down but Ospreys are unable to take advantage. Saracens, with some serious grunt and mongrel in the pack, are really getting the better of Ospreys at the breakdown, but another turnover is wasted as Farrell fluffs an attempted pass off his left hand. Very different from the EDF semi-final a couple of weeks ago, Saracens really damaging their Welsh opponents at the contact area.

22 mins: The first sparks of brilliance from the Ospreys backs. Henson's kick is charged down, but the ball falls to Henson who pops the ball up to Hook. The Wales scrum-half beats a couple of men but is unable to shift the ball wide to Vaughton, who appeared to have plenty of space, after Parker is unable to collect Hook's pass. Shane Williams then steps and beats his man and it's all opened up all of a sudden. Intriguing.

21 mins: Duncan Jones is pinged for standing up in the scrum, but Jackson pushes his long-range penalty to the right of the posts.

17 mins: Saracens are seriously pumped for this, and Shane Williams feels the force of their pack, Richard Hill and Hugh Vyvyan teaming up and sending him crashing on his jacksie. Ospreys look a little bit shell-shocked here, and they've now given up six penalties in the opening 20 minutes.

14 mins: PENALTY Saracens 6-3 Ospreys
Penalties, penalties everywhere - great kick to touch from Jackson after Sonny Parker is pinged for holding on before Jackson gets another chance at goal after Alan Lewis spots hands in the ruck. Unerring from Jackson, clipping the ball over like an approach with a lob wedge.

11 mins: Another bullocking carry from Farrell but Chesney comes in from the side and Hook leathers the penalty for territory. Wyn Jones thinks he's scored the first try of the match, but the Wales lock is disappointed - refere Alan Lewis penalising him for tackling Saracens scrum-half De Kock without the ball.

10 mins: PENALTY Saracens 3-3 Ospreys
Good angle from Farrell and Wyn Jones is penalised for obstruction. Glen Jackson steps up and slots the three points and we're level once again.

7 mins: Bit of vision from Henson, whipping a long pass wide to Shane Williams, but Haughton does well to haul him down. Big hit by Chesney on Parker and Saracens are awarded a penalty. One thing's clear from these early exchanges: Chris Chesney is up for it.

5 mins: Marshall puts up a bomb and that's not particularly convincing from the luxuriously coiffured Haughton under pressure from Williams, but the ball goes backwards and it's mopped up. Hands in the ruck, however, from the hosts and Hook kicks for territory.

2 mins: PENALTY Saracens 0-3 Ospreys
First blood to Ospreys - a penalty results from a ruck bang in front of the Saracens uprights and Hook slots the three points. Very chipper start from the visitors.

1 min: We're off, and it's Ospreys it is with the first phases of attack, Vaughton hitting the line at pace. A spot of early afternoon Bread of Heaven, which won't please the natives much.

1229: The winners of this match play the mighty Munster of course - if it's Saracens that match will take place in Coventry, if it's Ospreys that match will take place at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Here come the teams - a very purposeful entry from Ryan Jones and his Ospreys team and Saracens get an almighty welcome from their fans. We are in for a cracker.

1225: Saracens have been at Vicarage Road since 1997, but this is the first time it's ever been sold out for a rugby match. Cracking atmosphere down in Watford, and it's not often you hear anyone say that.

1219: Is there a more exciting player in world rugby at the moment than Shane Williams? One thing's for certain, I'd rather be doing a leg of the Olympic torch procession through London than marking him today. Richard Haughton, over to you son. The big style news today is that Gavin Henson is sporting a new barnet: he won the man-of-the-match award for Ospreys after their thumping win over Sarries in the EDF Cup semi-final a couple of weeks ago and decided that was good enough reason to get rid of his Beatles mop and revert to an old-school Hoxton Fin. Beckham had one of those in 2001.

1212: Saracens director of rugby Alan Gaffney has made four changes to the side that walloped Leeds 66-7 last weekend, with forwards Cobus Visagie and Richard Hill and backs Andy Farrell and wing Richard Haughton recalled. Ospreys wing Nikki Walker misses the match after fracturing his fibia and is replaced by Jon Vaughton. Kiwi veteran Justin Marshall is in for the injured Mike Phillips at scrum-half.

"Cardiff saw off Stade and nilled Bristol. If they do win today, will they get the praise they have deserved for a while now?"
Iceman on 606

1200: Afternoon folks. Big day of Heineken Cup rugby today - Saracens looking to get revenge on Ospreys after their 30-3 thumping in the EDF semi-finals last month, and Cardiff Blues looking to pull off a rare win for a Welsh club on French soil. Personally, I think Ospreys' international contingent have got too much momentum behind them for Sarries to resist, while Toulouse will have too much class for the Blues. We'll see.

see also
Heineken Cup photos
05 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Saracens 19-10 Ospreys
06 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Gaffney happy to silence critics
06 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Farrell facing three months out
06 Apr 08 |  Saracens
Toulouse 41-17 Blues
06 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup as it happened
05 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
London Irish 20-9 Perpignan
05 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Boss Smith hails Exiles character
05 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Gloucester 3-16 Munster
05 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Heineken Cup 2007/8
23 May 07 |  Rugby Union

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