Toulon break Leinster hearts in Champions Cup semi-final

Leinster's Ian Madigan
Leinster's Ian Madigan

TOULON 25 LEINSTER 25 (AET).

Leigh Halfpenny kicked Toulon into the Champions Cup final at Twickenham next month and kept his team on course for an unprecedented European title hat-trick following an extra-time finish at Stade Velodrome.

The Wales full-back booted six penalties and a conversion of wing Bryan Habana’s interception try midway through the additional 20 minutes as Toulon triumphed 25-20 to book a Twickenham final appointment with fellow French heavyweights Clermont Auvergne on May 2.

Leinster gave as good as they got for most of the contest, with centre Ian Madigan kicking five penalties and flanker Sean O’Brien scoring a late try, but it was Madigan’s pass that South African speedster Habana intercepted to see Toulon home.

Toulon, bidding to become the first team in 20 years of European knockout club rugby to win three successive tournaments, were pushed all the way by a Leinster side that delivered its best performance of this season’s competition.

Ultimately, though, they were left to reflect on what might have been, conceding 13 points during extra-time after holding Toulon 12-12 after 80 minutes.

But Toulon will need to deliver a far more clinical display if they are to threaten Clermont in what will be a repeat of the 2013 European final.