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Cardiff oust Toulouse to reach European Cup semis

Video by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-04-13

Stade Toulouse, the last French club still in the competition, were eliminated by the Cardiff Blues in quarter-finals of the European Cup. The French side, who had a try disallowed for a forward ball, were plagued by fumbles and poor passing.

AFP - Cardiff Blues reached the European Cup semi-finals on Saturday with a battling 9-6 triumph over three-time champions Toulouse.

The Welsh team gained sweet revenge over a French side who had beaten them at the same stage last season and will now tackle either Leicester or Bath for a place inin the final.

All the points in the Millennium Stadium clash came from the boot.

Cardiff enjoyed a flying start when Ben Blair kicked a first-minute penalty after Toulouse lock forward Patricio Albacete was penalised for an infringement at the opening ruck.

The intensity of the occasion was highlighted in the fifth minute when Welsh international flanker Martyn Williams came to blows with All Blacks scrum-half Byron Kelleher.

A minute later, Frederic Michalak levelled the tie with a penalty awarded against Cardiff scrum-half Jason Spice for not releasing the ball.

Blues winger Leigh Halfpenny then missed a long range penalty before Toulouse had a try ruled out following a video referee decision which judged that Thierry Dustautoir had knocked on after being released by a smart pass from Kelleher.

In a gruelling, tight and tactical opening half, where the ball spent more time in the air than in the hands, Blair missed another Cardiff penalty before he edged his side ahead 6-3 in the 30-minute mark when Jean Bouihlou was caught offside.

The game gradually opened up after the interval with Cardiff slicing through the French defence courtesy of a clean break from Jamie Roberts.

Cardiff then went 9-3 ahead with another Blair penalty with Roberts then unfortunate with a drop-goal which came agonisingly back off the post.

Toulouse cut the deficit again in the 64th minute with David Skrela, who had replaced Michalak, kicking an easy penalty after Martyn Williams has been punished for a cynical offside.

Cardiff then soaked up a late Toulouse surge with solid defence and iron discipline to claim a famous victory.

In Saturday's second semi-final, Leicester, the 2001 and 2002 champions, welcome 1998 winners Bath.

Leicester will be without prop Julian White, serving a two-week ban for punching, but South African World Cup winner Butch James will be available for Bath after being cleared of stamping.

On Sunday, defending champions Munster face Ospreys at Thomond Park while Leinster travel to Harlequins.

Date created : 2009-04-11

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