Toulouse beat European champions La Rochelle to reach French final four

·2-min read

Toulouse reached the last four of the French Top 14 by beating recently-crowned European champions La Rochelle, 33-28, on Saturday.

"We didn't want to go on holiday so soon," said Thomas Ramos, the Toulouse full-back, who kicked 13 points for the hosts.

Fifteen days after beating Leinster in this season's European final, La Rochelle seemed too blunt to cope with the speed of thought and play of Toulouse scrum-half Antoine Dupont.

Dupont's break, chip and chase set up centre Pierre Fouyssac for a first try after eight minutes.

Dupont scored himself four minutes later, finishing off a Toulouse move filled with Harlem Globetrotters passing by sidestepping Ihaia West right and then left before touching down in the corner.

Flanker Wiaan Liebenberg replied for La Rochelle but three penalties from Ramos gave the hosts a 21-7 halftime lead.

No. 8 Gregory Alldritt added a second try for the visitors after 56 minutes but winger Juan Cruz Mallia and fly-half Romain Ntamack quickly replied with two touchdowns for the hosts.

Tries from hooker Pierre Bougarit in the final minute and replacement Jules Favre in added time allowed La Rochelle to cut the final margin without ever threatening to win.

"We had a very good first half which gave us a significant lead at the break," said Ramos.

"It was a bit more complicated at the beginning of the second half but we managed to take the lead to secure the victory.

Toulouse beat their Maritime rivals for a seventh straight time, a run which includes last season's Top 14 and European finals.

In the semi-final in Nice next Friday, Toulouse will meet neighbours Castres, who topped the table in the regular season.

"Castres in the semi-final? They finished first and they deserve this place. It's a big challenge that awaits us against a complete team with no weak points. We want to continue our momentum," said Ramos.

On Sunday, Bordeaux-Begles host Racing 92. The winner will play Montpellier in the other semi-final.

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