Clermont crushed by clinical Toulouse
May 27, 2011
Toulouse skipper Thierry Dusautoir leads by example
© Getty Images
Toulouse booked their place in the Top 14 final with a dominant display in a 29-6 victory over Clermont Auvergne in Marseille on Friday.
Guy Noves' side, who finished the regular season as runaway leaders, had far too much for the reigning champions and dominated every facet of the game, notably gaining the upper hand at the scrum and dominating their rivals in defence.
Fijian winger Rupeni Caucaunibuca, a late call-up following an injury to Vincent Clerc, bagged two tries to bookend the kicking exploits of David Skrela, who finished with a personal haul of 14 points. Toulouse will now face either Racing Metro or Montpellier in the Paris finale, with their first title since 2008 on the line.
Caucaunibuca had an immediate impact as part of a stunning early break. The Bayonne-bound Cedric Heymans began it from behind his posts, bringing Caucau into play before William Servat kept the ball alive with a no-look pass over his shoulder. Maxime Medard led the charge into the Clermont 22 only for Clement Poitrenaud to fumble the ball over the line, with the referee signalling advantage.
Skrela slotted a simple penalty on five minutes and soon after converted the opening try following more enterprising play. Yannick Jauzion set off on an outside-break and carved into space, finding Poitrenaud in support thanks to a suspiciously forward pass. His centre partner jagged back and popped the ball to Caucau, who rounded off the score with ease.
Clermont responded to going 10 points down with a 60-metre penalty from fullback Anthony Floch, but Skrela quickly snatched back the points following some cynical play by Thibault Privat close to the line.
Les Jaunards threatened a late flurry as half-time neared but were thwarted time and again by Toulouse, who forced them to settle for one further penalty, this time from Morgan Parra, and a deficit of 13-6 at the break.
First blood in the second-half went to Skrela and Toulouse, with the fly-half's third penalty, but Clermont did fire a warning shot as a determined charge from Julien Malzieu had black jerseys scrambling in defence. Skrela quickly punctured their bubble with another penalty - this one a 60m monster every bit as impressive as Floch's.
Nicolas Bezy, Skrela's replacement, missed a brace of penalties just after his introduction, and Toulouse were similarly profligate when presented with a cast-iron chance to kill the game off. Yannick Nyanga pounced on a loose ball and broke clear, Medard snaffling his offload and continuing the move only for Jauzion to be scragged by the cover defence as Caucau lurked in search of his second.
Bezy completed his hat-trick of misses with nine minutes remaining but found his range just before the end, with Caucau completing the win with a long range try after Clermont had fumbled the ball in a desperate attempt to give the scoreline some respectability.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game
Amy Perrett, the Australian referee who whistled the Women's Rugby World Cup final after handling only six Tests, talks to Jamie Lyall