Rugby: Michalak drops Toulouse into history books

23rd May 2005, Comments 0 comments

EDINBURGH, May 22 (AFP) - French giants Toulouse became the first side to win the European Cup three times here on Sunday as they beat French rivals Stade Francais 18-12 after extra-time.

EDINBURGH, May 22 (AFP) - French giants Toulouse became the first side to win the European Cup three times here on Sunday as they beat French rivals Stade Francais 18-12 after extra-time.  

The match had been tied at 12-12 after normal time but a penalty from Frederic Michalak and a drop goal by the mercurially-talented fly-half in extra-time deprived Stade of their first European Cup, having already lost in the 2001 edition to Leicester.  

The Parisians led until two minutes from the end of normal time before the stand-off levelled the contest with his first penalty strike.  

He repeated the dose in the initial stages of extra time - then sealed his side's success with a superb opportunist drop-goal.  

However, their success was marred by a bizarre incident as their fiery coach Guy Noves was escorted from the pitch by police before the trophy was handed to his players.  

Michalak said it had lifted the gloom from their last minute defeat to Wasps last year.  

"Last year's defeat hit us hard and was like a dagger in the heart," said the 22-year-old.  

"I am a little emotional that we have won it this time round in a hard physical match."   Man of the match Yannick Jauzion said they had the soul to pull it off.  

"This was a victory for the heart," said the Toulouse and France centre, who was also the man of the match in the semi-final victory over Leicester.  

"We were more determined than they were.  

"It was a question of mental strength and while we all felt the physical effects we stayed united and strong - this certainly makes up for last year's agonising defeat."  

The first half had been a scrappy affair, blighted by frequent handling errors and misdirected kicks from both sides as they struggled to adapt to the blustery conditions and a greasy surface.  

Toulouse looked the more urgent team in the early stages with Welsh wing Gareth Thomas almost squeezing through after latching on to a beautifully weighted crossfield chip by Michalak.  

It was Stade, however, who began to show control and they broke the deadlock in the 11th minute with a David Skrela penalty following handling on the ground.   The stand-off repeated the feat three minutes later when Toulouse forwards were guilty of entering a ruck from side-on.  

Jean-Baptiste Elissalde eased the pressure on Toulouse by slotting an identical score at the other end, only to see Skrela quickly restore the Stade advantage.  

The kicking duel continued until the half-time break with the rival marksman each maintaining their 100 records to make it 12-6 in favour of Stade.  

Toulouse suffered a setback just after the restart when captain Fabien Pelous limped off with a leg injury and replaced by Jean Bouilhou.  

The departure of Pelous seemed to inspire his team-mates and they stepped up the pace to immediately narrow the gap with Elissalde's third strike.  

Winger Vincent Clerc then broke clear for Toulouse, however referee Chris White halted play for a marginal forward pass.  

Stade looked like holding out, but Michalak's 79th minute penalty levelled the issue - then put them in front for the first time from close range.  

Michalak's snap drop-goal in the 12th minute of extra time took the match out of Stade's reach.



Subject: French News

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