Perpignan trash Toulouse's Top 14 hopes with 21-13 win
Perpignan destroyed Toulouse’s hopes for both the Top 14 and European Cup titles by beating them 21-13 in the Top 14 semi-final on Friday. Perpignan will play the winner of Saturday's semi-final between Clermont and Toulon in the final on May 29.
AFP - Jerome Porical ended 17-times French champions Toulouse's hopes of a Top 14/European Cup double on Friday as the Perpignan fullback scored all his side's points in a 21-13 victory in their semi-final clash.
Toulouse scored the one try of the match in Montpellier through young scrum-half Nicolas Bezy but Porical punished every infraction by Toulouse to keep alive Perpignan's hopes of emulating Biarritz (2005/06) in retaining their title.
Perpignan will play the winner of Saturday's semi-final between 10-times finalists Clermont and three-time champions Toulon in the final at the Stade de France on May 29.
"We knew this would be very, very tight from the start," said Perpignan coach Jacques Brunel. "It was a tough qualification but we couldn't wait to face Toulouse."
"Even when we were four points down at half-time, we knew there was still everything to play for. We are in the final again, but I don't know whether we are stronger than last year.
"We want to defend our title, but we know it'll be very difficult."
Toulouse got a dream start opening the score in the seventh minute, with 20-year-old Bezy on the end of a scintillating move started deep inside the European Cup finalists' 22.
The ball passed from Finau Maka to Florian Fritz, Clement Poitrenaud and onto David Skrela, whose finely-timed pass went to Bezy.
The former Stade Francais junior - making just his third start of the season because of injury to Jean-Baptiste Elissalde and All Black great Byron Kelleher being rested - touched down under the posts.
Skrela converted to make it 7-0, but Porical reduced the deficit with a penalty a minute later.
Porical further reduced the Toulouse lead to just a point a few minutes later after Census Johnston was penalised by referee Romain Poite.
Skrela, however, made it 10-6 almost immediately.
Porical, who emulated his grandfather last year in taking the title with Perpignan, brought his side back to within a point of Toulouse in the 22nd minute with another penalty.
Skrela, though, safely converted a penalty from 45 metres out in the 26th minute to make it 13-9.
However, Perpignan would not let their opponents out of their reach even though Toulouse had dominated possession and territory.
It was Porical again who brought his side back to within a point in the 42nd minute with another penalty.
His metronomic accuracy pushed his side into the lead for the first time in the 51st minute as he slotted over from 30 metres out.
Porical then put Perpignan five points clear just after the hour mark with a penalty from 50 metres as Toulouse coach Guy Noves opted to send on France Six Nations Grand Slam winning captain Thierry Dusautoir to try and rally his fading side.
However, despite a late flurry from Toulouse, they were unable to breach the Perpignan line.
Porical added a match-clinching penalty two minutes from time leaving Toulouse to seek consolation in next Saturday's European Cup final against Biarritz.