Toulouse land fourth Heineken Cup title

Biarritz 19 Toulouse 21

Heineken Cup kings Toulouse landed their fourth European title after subduing Biarritz's late revival in a tense final at Stade de France.

Fly-half David Skrela and centre Florin Fritz shared Toulouse's points, Skrela booting two drop-goals and three penalties, while Fritz followed a mammoth penalty strike with a drop-goal.

Biarritz mustered four Dimitri Yachvili penalties before their Australian rugby league import Karmichael Hunt scored a late try - converted by substitute Valentin Courrent - to spark a nerve-tingling finale.

But Toulouse held on, making Biarritz pay for not building on a promising 9-3 advantage midway through the second quarter.

Ultimately, there was no European glory for Biarritz's England international trio of Iain Balshaw, Magnus Lund and Ayoola Erinle.

Toulouse are masters of knockout rugby, and once Skrela took charge to keep their noses in front, the trophy was on its way back to southern France for the first time since 2005.

As on that occasion - against Stade Francais at Murrayfield - Toulouse failed to cross the opposition line, but they deserved their victory, even if in the end it proved too close for comfort.

Biarritz, Heineken runners-up for the second time in five seasons, failed to handle a dominant Toulouse scrum, and that underpinned their defeat.

Toulouse made a bright start, launching a dangerous attack that had their skipper Thierry Dusautoir as its pivotal figure, but Biarritz did not panic and snuffed out the danger.

Yachvili's opening penalty success gave Toulouse food for thought, and he doubled the advantage after 16 minutes with a second successful kick.

His angled strike bounced over via the post, unlike Skrela's first penalty chance that hit the upright and bounced safe from a Biarritz perspective.

Toulouse then opened their account when specialist long-range kicker Fritz landed a 55-metre penalty, only for him to undo his good work almost immediately.

Balshaw attempted an attack just inside Toulouse's half, and despite him posing little danger, Fritz gifted Yachvili another penalty chance when he illegally tackled the England Test player.

Yachvili made no mistake for a 9-3 advantage, yet just when it looked as though underdogs Biarritz might carve out a healthy interval advantage, Toulouse stormed back.

Skrela found his range from 45 metres, and then Balshaw was pressed into some critical defensive work after Toulouse freed wing Maxime Medard, who tried to take the Biarritz full-back on the outside.

Balshaw did his job, but Toulouse were on a roll as two Skrela penalties in quick succession levelled it up before Fritz dropped a goal.

Referee Wayne Barnes required clarification from video official Graham Hughes, who confirmed the ball had bounced over following a deflection off the post.

It meant Biarritz trailed 12-9 at the break despite dominating much of the half territorially, with Toulouse edging themselves in front even though they had not remotely found top gear.

There were signs of them stirring though, and they began the second period in far more ruthless mood, looking to unleash their dangerous midfield backs.

Skrela looked to bring France Grand Slam centre Yannick Jauzion into the action far more, and holes started to appear in a Biarritz defence which was stretched in all directions.

But Toulouse allowed their opponents a clear reprieve when, after switching the angle of attack repeatedly, Maxime Medard only had to catch the ball and then free an unmarked team-mate outside him, but he dropped it.

And Biarritz immediately capitalised through a fourth Yachvili penalty after Toulouse lock Patricio Albacete was yellow-carded for blatantly tackling Biarritz hooker Benoit August without the ball.

Skrela then restored Toulouse's advantage by landing his team's second drop-goal, and Biarritz attempted to shore up a creaking scrum by sending on destructive loosehead prop Fabien Barcella.

As Barcella settled into the action, Biarritz's flying American wing Takudzwa Ngwenya required treatment following a crunching collision with Medard, and it had become an increasingly defensive rearguard action by his team.

It was left to Skrela to believe he had sealed the deal through another drop-goal and penalty, but Hunt's try set up a thrilling finish before Toulouse's flag-waving fans could finally start celebrating.

Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all