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Last Updated: Monday, 24 May, 2004, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
Freak Howley try enters folklore
By Bryn Palmer
BBC Sport at Twickenham

Poitrenaud is left clutching at air as Howley pounces
It may not have the global resonance of Jonny's drop goal, but Rob Howley's Heineken Cup-winning try will take its own place in rugby folklore.

Just as England fans can recall the moments leading up to Wilkinson's famous World Cup winner, so Wasps supporters will remember the Welshman's score for years to come.

Partly because the match had gone right down to the wire with the agony and ecstasy of extra-time apparently waiting.

But more so because of Clement Poitrenaud's extraordinary and fatal howler that gifted Howley the score.

Wasps wing Tom Voyce insisted there was no panic when Toulouse levelled the scores at 20-20 with four minutes of normal time left.

"We just said 'let's get it down their end and try to work a penalty from it'," he told BBC Sport.

"I don't think there was any fear we were going to lose it or clam up. It was all very calm."

Every try is important but I won't forget this one for a long time
Rob Howley

And so Wasps kicked off again, and the rest is now part of Heineken history.

"Frederic Michalak kicked it back at us and me and Rob looked at each other," Voyce continued. "We were not sure who was going to chase it.

"He got there first and looked up, but decided not to give it to me. When he kicked it I thought 'this is looking like a good one'.

"I was thinking 'please go out, please go out,' but it just seemed to keep going."

Television replays suggested the ball did indeed go out, momentarily clipping the touchline.

But assistant referee Donal Courtenay did not raise his flag, and the ball slithered on and over the Toulouse line.

Toulouse full-back Poitrenaud followed it attentively, preferring to tap it down for a 22 drop-out rather than concede a line-out to Wasps.

But as he bent down, Howley - who had followed up his own kick - dived forwards and got his hands to the ball first.

"I had a bit of luck with the bounce, but I tried to put pressure on the full-back," said the Welsh scrum-half. "When he hesitated, I took the opportunity."

Howley admitted however that he was uncertain whether it was a try or not.

"I knew I had two hands on the ball but I was unsure whether I had downward pressure on the ball," he said.

Rob is willing to chase and squeeze every last drop out of whatever is there
Wasps captain Lawrence Dallaglio

But after referee Alain Rolland had consulted with his assistant in the television box, the Irishman's raised arm confirmed Toulouse's worst fears.

"It was a bit like Trevor Leota's try in Dublin," recalled Voyce of the winning score in the epic semi-final win over Munster. "It was always going to be a tough call for the video ref, but it was nice when it was given."

Wasps captain Lawrence Dallaglio admitted "the video referee has been kind to us in this competition", but praised Howley's determination.

"Rob is willing to chase and squeeze every last drop out of whatever is there," Dallaglio said.

"He did it in Munster with a charge-down for Paul Volley's try, and if you put pressure on players, things can happen."

For Howley, who admitted Wasps had "set their hearts on winning the European Cup" this year, it was a special moment in an illustrious career.

"Every try is important," he reflected. "But I won't forget this one for a long time."

Nor will Poitrenaud or the 73,000 present who witnessed it.

Toulouse skipper Fabien Pelous was not ready to discuss the mistake in the final's immediate aftermath.

"I didn't see what happened so I haven't said anything to Clement. I will leave it some time to let the disappointment of losing fade before I do say anything to him," he said.


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