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.

Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss