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Page last updated at 17:43 GMT, Saturday, 22 May 2010 18:43 UK

Biarritz 19-21 Toulouse

Biarritz (9) 19
Tries: Hunt Cons: Courrent Pens: Yachvili 4
Toulouse (12) 21
Pens: Fritz, Skrela 3 Drop-goals: Fritz, Skrela 2

Toulouse celebrate with the Heienken Cup
Toulouse stand alone as four-time champions of Europe

By James Standley

Toulouse became the first team to win the Heineken Cup four times as their superior power up front set up a dramatic victory against Biarritz.

The Basques took a 9-3 lead through three Dimitri Yachvili penalties to one for Toulouse from Florian Fritz.

But two David Skrela penalties and a Fritz drop-goal put Toulouse 12-9 up.

Yachvili levelled the scores after the break but two drop-goals and a penalty from Skrela saw Toulouse home, despite Karmichael Hunt's late converted try.

Hunt's score set up a nail-biting finish, with the Basques launching a series of desperate attacks, but Toulouse held out to become the first four-time champions of Europe.

The French aristocrats could have won more convincingly and spared their late nerves, but a combination of brave Biarritz defence and poor Toulouse finishing saw them fail to score a try despite four times coming within a couple of metres of the Biarritz line.


The fans of both sides had travelled to Paris in their hordes from the south west heartlands of the French game, and the Stade de France was a sea of red, a colour close to the hearts of both clubs.

Toulouse are the most successful side in the history of French domestic rugby as well as the European game, but Biarritz have become a major power in the past decade and were determined to go one better than in 2006, when they lost to Munster.

Forward power had laid the base for both sides to ease past Irish opposition in the semi-finals, and in the end it was the power of the Toulouse eight, particularly in the scrum, that was to prove the difference in Paris.

A quick free-kick on halfway inside the first two minutes almost saw Toulouse open the scoring, but Biarritz managed to scramble back and halt the attack five metres out, and then charge down an attempted drop-goal from Yannick Jauzion.

It was an ominous sign for Biarritz of Toulouse's firepower but it was the Basques who opened the scoring.

The one area they managed to get the upper hand was at the line-out and their dominance there helped Yachvili stroke over three penalties, with Toulouse replying through a long-range effort from Fritz.

The centre's 55m kick came after the Toulouse front row butchered their Biarritz opposite numbers for the second time - Skrela had hit the woodwork after their first demolition job.

Biarritz were hammering into Toulouse at the tackle and troubling them at the line-out but Les Rouge et Noir's dominance in the scrum was increasingly telling and it enabled Skrela to cut the gap to three points after 32 minutes.

Karmichael Hunt races over to score for Biarritz
Hunt's late try set up a stomach-churning finale at the Stade de France

Toulouse had by now taken control of the game and a further penalty from Skrela, and a drop-goal from Fritz, saw them go in 12-9 up at the break.

"Toulousain" chants were echoing round the stadium but their passionate fans suffered a scare soon after the restart.

It was bad enough when Maxime Medard dropped the ball with a man spare outside him after a surging attack had threatened to take Biarritz apart, but when Toulouse then lost a line-out, Benoit August led a one-man Basque breakout.

He kicked ahead and was hauled down off the ball, leading to Argentine second row Patricio Albacete being yellow-carded and Yachvili landing his fourth penalty to level the scores.

But despite being a man down, Toulouse were now in the ascendancy and their territorial dominance enabled Skrela to land two more drop-goals to make the score 18-12 entering the final quarter.

Biarritz had made four changes in an attempt to change the flow of the game, including bringing on Fabien Barcella to shore up their creaking front row.

But Toulouse looked untroubled and although another attack came to a halt two metres out, a third Skrela penalty looked to have made the game safe.

However, Biarritz had other ideas, and despite taking off the inspirational Yachvili, they went down all guns blazing.

Arnaud Mignardi made a slashing break from just outside his own 22 and Takudzwa Ngwenya raced 40m before sending Hunt striding over for a spectacular score.

Replacement Valentin Courrent stroked over the conversion to cut the gap to two points, and with seven minutes to go Toulouse hearts were in their mouths.

Biarritz threw everything at them, with Iain Balshaw and Ngwenya both embarking on threatening runs, but Toulouse held out to confirm their status as kings of Europe.

Biarritz: Balshaw; Ngwenya, Hunt, Mignardi, Gobelet; Peyrelongue, Yachvili; Coetzee, August, Johnstone, Thion, Hall, Lund, Lauret, Harinordoquy.

Replacements: Barcella (for Coetzee, 51), Bidabe (for Gobelet, 59), Carizza (for Hall, 60), Faure (for Lauret, 60), Terrain (for August, 69), Courrent (for Yachvili, 71).

Not Used: Hughes, Erinle.

Toulouse: Poitrenaud; Clerc, Fritz, Jauzion, Medard; Skrela, Kelleher; Poux, Servat, Lecouls, Millo-Chluski, Albacete, Bouilhou, Dustautoir, Sowerby.

Replacements: Maestri (for Millo-Chluski, 59), Human (for Poux, 61), Johnston for Lecouls (64), Heymans (for Poitrenaud, 68), Picamoles (for Sowerby, 71), David (for Fritz, 71), Basualdo (for Servat, 72).

Not Used: Elissalde.

Sin Bin: Albacete (51).

Att: 80,000

Ref: Wayne Barnes (RFU).

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see also
Heineken Cup final in photos
22 May 10 |  Rugby Union
Biarritz 18-7 Munster
02 May 10 |  Munster
Toulouse 26-16 Leinster
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Leicester 16-19 Leinster
23 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Munster 16-13 Toulouse
24 May 08 |  Rugby Union
Munster 23-19 Biarritz
20 May 06 |  European Club
Stade Francais 12-18 Toulouse
22 May 05 |  European Club
Wasps 27-20 Toulouse
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Toulouse regain European crown
24 May 03 |  European Club
Balshaw signs deal with Biarritz
27 Apr 09 |  Gloucester
Lund poised for Biarritz switch
08 May 08 |  Sale

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