European Cup Championship: Toulouse Beats La Rochelle to Win Fifth Title – BlackSportsOnline
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European Cup Championship: Toulouse Beats La Rochelle to Win Fifth Title

Toulouse claimed the European Cup for a record fifth time with a narrow victory over 14-man La Rochelle in Twickenham. 10 000 fans were present to watch the victory live up close, many more watched from their screens and placed their bets on NetBet Sport amongst other sites.

La Rochelle Levani Botia (center) had to deal with a strong tackle after 30 minutes, but his team led 12-9 after an intense half.

Juan Cruz Mallia made the first attempt after an hour to put Toulouse ahead.

Tawera Kerr-Barlow dived over late for La Rochelle to secure an amazing finish, but Toulouse held on.

The victory gave Toulouse their first win of the competition since 2010, making them the first French team to win the title from Toulon six years ago.

Mallia’s effort and the fifth penalty from Romain Ntamack’s start shortly after seemed to give Toulouse some distance from their tiring opponents, but the first-time finalists La Rochelle reacted bravely.

If Ihaia West had not hit the post with two of his kicks to the goal – first with a penalty and later when he was trying to convert Kerr-Barlow’s effort – La Rochelle could have claimed an unforgettable victory.

The victory made the fly-half Ntamack reach the level of his father, Emile, who was part of the Toulouse team that won the first Cup title in 1996, while captain Antoine Dupont was named European Player of the Year for his role in team success.

Toulouse finally made their numerical advantage count in the second half after going to the break 12-9 down.

Referee Luke Pearce was unable to try when Rigi Arnold broke the line at 12-12 due to a lack of “compelling evidence” that the lock had been touched.

But Ntamack started his life when he missed two passes to find Thomas Ramos, who fed the ball behind him to allow Mallia to cool down.

With just a few seconds left as La Rochelle tried to get the ball back, Ntamack got scared to his side as he caught it as he had spent 80 minutes on the clock before Dupont lost the ball off the pitch.

There was not much to choose between the two sides as Damak and West exchanged penalties until the turning point came with the score 6-6.

Botia entered Maxim Medard with his shoulder, grabbing Toulouse at the back of the neck, and initially the yellow card that had invaded within 10 meters appeared.

But referee Pearce looked at it and then threw the red card in the center of Fiji, while the 32-year-old sat in the bucket.

However, the team coached by the former Ireland, Ronan O’Gara, lost the loss of Botia to continue to pressure Toulouse and thanks to the start of the West led 12-9 at the break.

Although it went more than a tried and tested effort back with time running out, La Rochelle showed tremendous determination and Kerr-Barlow’s half scrum threw close to create an exciting climax.

Aside from Botia’s lack of discipline and the West’s lost kicks, O’Gara’s team will also be out when the hooker Pierre Bourgarit threw the ball over the goal at 12-12, but emerged from the first Champions League final. Cup with great faith.

Toulouse front coach Jerome Kaino: “I’m absolutely excited and it did not come easy. I’m glad we crossed the line.

“The pressure comes from the first day when you go to the club and you know the golden years very well. It’s a relief and I feel great to have this fifth star. I’m proud of the boys.

“I have to take my hat off to La Rochelle. I think their red card was galvanized.

“It was a traditional final as it went all the way to the wire.”

La Rochelle head coach Ronan O’Gara: “It would have been difficult, but we did it very hard. We were inaccurate and out of control in the first 40 minutes, regardless of the red card.

“We played the rest of the game with 14, but you saw what it meant for the players and how they dug for each other which is enjoyable.

“He (Botia) is not going out there intending to get a red card. He hit high which is equivalent to a red card. We are trying to make the game safer. We have no complaints.”

Harlequins and England Danny Care on BBC Radio 5 Live:

You should feel sorry for La Rochelle after the effort they made when she reached the 14 men, but it is a euphoria for Toulouse to win their fifth title.

They have world-class stars, but Antoine Dupont is the heart of the Toulouse team. He makes big tackles and is the guy who fires the attack when they have the chance with the ball. He is the worthy European player of the year.