The first entrant into the 2021 Heineken Champions Cup final was confirmed on Saturday, as Toulouse defeated Bordeaux Bégles in their semi-final in the Stade Ernest-Wallon.
The wet and cold conditions in Toulouse proved to make life difficult for the attack-minded hosts, with the likes of Cheslin Kolbe, Antoine Dupont and Matthis Lebel being the exiting talking points leading into the match.
The visitors got off the mark first, with French international Matthieu Jalibert slotting a penalty in the first three minutes, after Toulouse were judged to be holding onto the ball at the breakdown.
This lead was short-lived, however, as Lebel continued his try-scoring form with a try in the left hand corner. Maxime Medard put Lebel away with a brilliant offload, after Toulouse opened up the space with a cutout pass to Medard for the assist.
Romain Ntamack was unable to add the conversion, keeping the visitors firmly in the game. Despite missing an opportunity to take the lead again in the ninth minute, Jalibert eventually got Bordeaux back in front halfway through the half with another penalty.
With Bordeaux in front, Toulouse were building a number of phases, and making their way up the field. A deliberate knock on from Cameron Woki would see the visitors go down to 14 men for 10 minutes, after he saw yellow.
Toulouse were unable to take advantage of the extra man, however eventually retook the lead minutes before half time with an Ntamack penalty.
Half time in Toulouse 🏟
Toulouse 8-6 Bordeaux Begles@VodafoneIreland | #TeamOfUs
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) May 1, 2021
The hosts were playing championship rugby as they looked to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Toulouse extended their lead in the first five minutes of the second half through another Ntamack penalty.
Neither side were giving much away in the second half, as the sun broke through the clouds to allow the game to open up. Ntamack took Toulouse out to an eight-point lead with another penalty in the 65th minute, before Kolbe lit up the park with a breaking run that ultimately ended with a kick out on the full.
Bordeaux came back to within a score with just over 10 minutes left of the match, though, as Jalibert added a penalty to his tally, making the difference just five points.
It was not to be for the visitors though, as just as the familiar sight of Antoine Dupont running the support line from a breakaway lead to a try for the superstar scrum half.
Pita Ahki stepped inside the Bordeaux defence to put Medard and Zack Holmes through the gap, before the ball ultimately landed in Dupont's hands for the try. Ntamack converted, leaving Bordeaux with it all to do with just seven minutes left in the match.
Bordeaux were unable to cross the whitewash in the final minutes of the minutes, and Toulouse booked their place in Twickenham with a 21-9 victory.
Tune into Off The Ball from 3pm on Sunday for live commentary of Leinster's semi-final against La Rochelle.
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