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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 May, 2003, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Toulouse regain European crown
Emile Ntamack is the sole survivor from Toulouse's 1996 success
Toulouse join Leicester as the only double champions
Perpignan 17-22 Toulouse

Seven years after winning the inaugural Heineken Cup, Toulouse regained their status of champions of Europe with an edgy victory over Perpignan.

The glamour team of French rugby played a pragmatic game in Dublin to build a winning first-half lead with a try from Vincent Clerc and 14 points from stand-off Yann Delaigue.


But they failed to score again until the 82nd minute, when Delaigue landed a fifth penalty to end a Perpignan fightback that had brought the underdogs to within a converted try.

The Catalans battled to the end, though, scoring a try through Pascal Bomati in the last action of the match, but Delaigue's kick had ensured Manny Edmonds' missed conversion was irrelevant.

Perpignan came back at us but we were great in defence
Toulouse captain Emile Ntamack
A stiff breeze blowing straight down the pitch dictated tactics throughout.

And Toulouse took full advantage of having the wind at their backs in the first half to place one hand on the trophy by the break.

They had to rein in their more creative instincts, using boot and breeze to gain territorial advantage and build a 19-point lead through the steady stream of penalty chances their pressure created.

Perpignan played closer to type, posing most danger through their powerful scrum and rumbling rolling mauls.

Their lineout, however, was a liability and not only denied them two scoring opportunities of their own but cost them the try that allowed Toulouse to open up a decisive lead.

MATCH FACTS
Perpignan (0) 17
Try: Bomati
Pens: Edmonds 4
Toulouse (19) 22
Try: Clerc
Cons: Delaigue
Pens: Delaigue 5

Trailing to three Delaigue penalties just after the half-hour, Perpignan saw another lineout picked off by Toulouse flanker Jean Bouilhou.

The ball was quickly transferred to midfield, where Yannick Jauzion handed off Edmonds and flung out a scoring pass to Clerc on the left wing.

With Delaigue's fourth penalty extending the lead to 19-0, Perpignan had no option but to go for broke after the break.

That is exactly what they did, taking their turn to harness the elements and chip away at Toulouse's advantage with Edmonds' boot.

Three penalties from the Australian stand-off cut the lead to 19-9 by the hour.

You can't give a quality team like Toulouse a 19-point lead
Perpignan's Manny Edmonds
And had Edmonds found the target with either of his two additional drop goal attempts, Toulouse would have been looking over their shoulder with even more concern.

The kings of French rugby looked edgy enough as it was, with Jauzion conceding a soft penalty that allowed Edmonds to bring Perpignan to within a converted try of parity with 10 minutes to play.

That, however, was effectively as close as they got and Delaigue sealed victory with a touchline penalty into the wind as the game moved into injury time.

Bomati's touchdown of Edmonds' cross-kick in the fourth minute of injury time raised Catalan hopes of a miracle, but the Australian's missed conversion proved to be the final's closing act.


Perpignan: J-M Souverbie; P Bomati, P Giordani, C Manas, F Cermeno; M Edmonds, L Loustau; R Peillard, M Konieckiewicz, N Mas, J Thion, R Alvarez-Kairelis, G Le Corvec, B Goutta (capt), P Murphy.
Replacements: M Dal Maso, S De Besombes, C Porcu, L Mallier, J Basset, N Laharrague, D Marty.

Toulouse: C Poitrenaud; E Ntamack, X Garbajosa, Y Jauzion, V Clerc; Y Delaigue, F Michalak; B Lecouls, Y Bru, J-B Poux, D Gerard, F Pelous (capt), T Brennan, J Bouilhou, C Labit.
Replacements: C Soulette, W Servat, G Lamboley, F Maka, S Dupuy, C Heymans, C Desbrosse.

Referee: Chris White (England).

Att: 28,600




WATCH AND LISTEN
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SEE ALSO
Heineken Cup final as it happened
24 May 03  |  European Club
Heineken Cup final photos
24 May 03  |  Photo Galleries
Heineken extends Cup sponsorship
23 May 03  |  European Club
Murphy eyes Tigers move
21 May 03  |  European Club


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