INTERNATIONAL

Toulouse win historic fifth European title

Toulouse became the first side to win five European titles on Saturday afternoon after a stunning 22-17 win over La Rochelle in a dramatic Heineken Champions Cup final at Twickenham Stadium.

It was a try from Heineken Champions Cup debutant Juan Cruz Mallia that helped Toulouse to victory, as well as 17 points from the boot of fly-half Romain Ntamack, who was perfect on the afternoon and becomes the first father-and-son combination to win the tournament, alongside his father Emile.

La Rochelle will possibly regret a string of missed chances as well as a red card to centre Levani Botia, although Tawera Kerr-Barlow did cross the whitewash with five minutes to play to set up a grandstand finish.

The first half proved to be a something of a kicking battle, with Romain Ntamack first slotting over a penalty back before his opposite number Ihaia West responded with a three-pointer of his own.

Ntamack and West then traded further penalty kicks, before the match turned on 27 minutes.

It was La Rochelle centre Levani Botia who was shown a red card by referee Luke Pearce following a high tackle on Maxime Medard, reducing the maiden finalists to 14 men for the remaining 53 minutes.

They were back level for 10 minutes though, as Rynhardt Elstadt was then sent to the sin bin for Toulouse, with West and Ntamack again trading blows before La Rochelle’s No.10 slotted over one just before the break to move them three ahead.

However, his kicking became more erratic in the second period – missing a total of three kicks – including one at the start of the second half from close range before Ntamack levelled the scores.

Cheslin Kolbe went close to the opening try on 54 minutes but they would eventually cross the whitewash on the hour-mark

It came courtesy of Mallia, on his first Heineken Champions Cup start, after a lovely cut-out pass to start the move from Ntamack, before play was nudged back inside to Argentinian who darted back to the outside and dived over.

Ntamack converted and then slotted another three-pointer to stretch the lead to 10 points, but La Rochelle would not give in.

It was scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow who rounded off a powerful set of phases from the monstrous La Rochelle pack to give them hope, although West would hit the post with the conversion to make it a five-point game.

But Toulouse saw off the final minutes to claim a record-breaking fifth European title, with Antoine Dupont kicking into touch to round off an epic Twickenham final.

Story Courtesy/EPC Rugby

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