Wasps sting Toulouse to snatch European Cup

24th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, May 23 (AFP) - Scrum-half Rob Howley scored a dramatic injury time try to give English champions Wasps their first ever European Cup triumph on Sunday with a 27-20 victory over French holders Toulouse at Twickenham.

LONDON, May 23 (AFP) - Scrum-half Rob Howley scored a dramatic injury time try to give English champions Wasps their first ever European Cup triumph on Sunday with a 27-20 victory over French holders Toulouse at Twickenham.

But the French side, who fought back from 20-11 down to 20-20 with just three minutes of normal time remaining, will be kicking themselves for the way former Welsh international skipper Howley was allowed to steal in to score.

As he chased his own hopeful kick ahead into the corner, Toulouse full-back Clement Poitrenaud fatally hesitated, hoping to guide the ball into touch.

That allowed Howley to seize his chance and take the ball off Poitrenaud's fingertips to score the vital try which was awarded after an agonising wait for the video referee to make a decision.

Kiwi Mark Van Gisbergen then coolly slotted home the conversion to spark wild celebrations inside a packed Twickenham.

"I just wanted to get into their territory and get the position for us to try a drop goal but we had a bit of luck with the try," said Howley.

"It has to be the biggest of my career. We were up against a very good side and I'm just thankful that we've won it."

Wasps and England skipper Lawrence Dallaglio, who was sin-binned for 10 minutes in the second half for persistent offside, admitted it was a tough ending to the game.

"We did it on the back foot," said Dallaglio.

"Toulouse were very worthy opponents and we knew from the word go that we were in for a hell of a game.

"The way they offloaded out of the tackle put us under enormous pressure but we showed huge character and determination.

"Rob deserved that try. He showed great determination to chase down his kick and it paid off."

The afternoon had started well for Toulouse with fly-half Yann Delaigue kicking two early penalties to give his side a 6-0 lead after 11 minutes.

But full-back Van Gisbergen, who was to score 17 of his team's points, reduced the deficit after 15 minutes with a penalty after Jean Bouilhou was judged offside.

In the 20th minute, Wasps were in front when they scored the first of their three tries as England centre Stuart Abbott was set-up by some fine work from Simon Shaw, Howley and Alex King.

Van Gisbergen converted to make the score 10-6 before Delaigue missed a penalty.

That proved crucial as Wasps edged ahead 13-6 thanks to another Van Gisbergen penalty after Trevor Brennan had been penalised for not releasing the ball.

But Toulouse then grabbed their first and only try of the game just before the interval when Delaigue finished off a powerful move which had been started by Poitrenaud and set-up just under the English posts.

The ball was fed from Finau Maka to Yannick Jauzion who in turn released Delaigue to score although the fly-half was unable to add the extra two points as the sides went in at half-time with Wasps 13-11 ahead.

Four minutes into the second half, the English side extended their lead to 20-11 when King escaped from Brennan to feed Van Gisbergen who scored between the posts.

The full-back easily converted.

But the turning point of the second half came in the 57th minute when Dallaglio was sin-binned.

Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, who had just replaced Delaigue, kicked the resulting penalty and added two more in the 71st and 77th minutes to bring his side level at 20-20.

With the game heading into extra-time, Poitrenaud made his fatal error which allowed Howley to score the crucial try.

Wasps became the fourth English side to win the European Cup following Bath, Northampton and Leicester.

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

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