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Toulouse hold off Harlequins resurgence to reach Champions Cup final

A clinical first-half performance steered French Giants Toulouse into their first Champions Cup final for three years. 

Five first half tries did the damage for the current French champions, however they were pushed all the way by a spirited Harlequins side.

‘Swing the bat’ was the mantra coming out of the Quins camp this week, however Toulouse were the team who really came out swinging with a try in the fourth minute.

The French outfit piled the pressure early doors, but it took a great pass from Romain Ntamack to send Matthis Lebel over for the try.

Lebel celebrates opening try for Toulouse-Credit: IMAGO

Quins responded well though, and took the lead through Marcus Smith. Powerful work from the Quins pack drew in the Toulouse defence, which created a gap for Smith to wiggle through and score. His conversion was also successful.

Toulouse hit back instantly through Peato Mauvaku, as he scored from the base of the maul.

Quins gave the French side a taste of their own medicine through Will Evans. A lovely Louis Lynagh 50:22 gifted Harlequins possession deep in enemy territory, and the back-rower dotted down from the base of a maul to pull his side level.

The celebrations were short lived though, as Thibaud Flament scored Toulouse’s third from the resulting kick-off. The second-rowers try seemed to reignite Toulouse’s attack, and they hit Quins hard with two quick-fire tries from star man Antoine Dupont as he finished off two stunning attacks from the French side.

French giants fight off spirited Quins comeback

Harlequins came out of the blocks flying in the second-half, scoring twice in the opening 10 minutes.

The first came through Cadan Murley, as he dived over in acrobatic fashion.

Cadan Murley scores for Harlequins-Credit: IMAGO

Murley turned from scorer to creator for the second try. A great break from Tyrone Green got Quins behind the Toulouse line. The fullback was able to keep the play alive with an offload to Murley, who then gave the ball back to Green to run in.

A war of attrition then broke out, as Toulouse looked to halt the growing Quins storm. With the game entering the crucial final quarter, things got that much harder for the Londoners as Jack Walker was sent to the sin-bin; which ultimately allowed Toulouse to kill the game off.

Another powerful driving maul got the French side on the front foot, but quick hands through the Toulouse back-line found Juan Cruz Mallia in space on the right wing, and he dotted down to secure the win for his side.

Toulouse 38-26 Harlequins

Juan Cruz Mallia celebrates winning try for Toulouse-Credit: IMAGO

Juan Cruz Mallia celebrates winning try for Toulouse-Credit: IMAGO

Toulouse: 38

Tries: Lebel, Mauvaka, Flament, Dupont (2), Mallia

Conversions: Kinghorn (3/5), Ramos (1/1)

Harlequins: 26

Tries: Smith, Evans, Murley, Green

Conversions: Smith (3/4)