LEINSTER WILL HAVE home advantage in their Champions Cup semi-final on Sunday 21 April [KO 3.15pm] after 14-man Toulouse upset Racing 92 in a sensational quarter-final in Paris today.
Toulouse pulled off a remarkable win in Paris. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
Toulouse overcame a 25th-minute red card for out-half Zack Holmes to deservedly beat a Racing 92 side that included Irishmen Simon Zebo and Donnacha Ryan.
Toulouse’s reward for their 22-21 win is a trip to Dublin to play Leinster at the Aviva Stadium in the semi-finals.
EPCR have also confirmed that Munster’s visit to the Ricoh Arena to play Saracens in the other semi-final will take place on Saturday 20 April at 3.15pm.
Leinster have already played Toulouse twice in this season’s competition – losing away from home but winning impressively at the RDS in January – and now face a third clash with the Top 14 leaders.
Racing were handed a prime opportunity to advance into the final four today when referee Luke Pearce sent Holmes off, but it was Toulouse who grabbed the initiative, playing thrilling attacking rugby inspired by scrum-half Antoine Dupont.
Leinster boss Leo Cullen and his coaching staff of Stuart Lancaster, Felipe Contepomi and John Fogarty were present at Racing’s Paris La Défense Arena today, getting a taster for what is to come in three weekends’ time.
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Toulouse – who had already scored an early try through Dupont – went ahead after the red card as they notched tries through Maxime Médard and Dupoint again to lead 19-10 at half-time, a yellow card for Racing wing Teddy Thomas aiding their cause.
The Médard try was a particularly beautiful score, featuring a stunning offload from 20-year-old Lucas Tauzin on his debut in the competition.
Racing attempted to settle themselves in the second half, narrowing the gap through the boot of scrum-half Maxime Machenaud, but saw left wing Juan Imhoff sin-binned, allowing Toulouse fullback Thomas Ramos to kick his side 22-16 in front.
Racing did make it a nervy finish with a fortunate try for hooker Camille Chat, who gathered the ball and scored from close-range after Toulouse had stolen a lineout from the Parisians.
Leinster’s coaching staff were in Paris to watch the quarter-final.
Machenaud was unable to convert the try from wide on the right, however, and Toulouse clung on with some desperate defence, as well as an important refereeing decision by Pearce to rule out a possible 78th-minute try for Leone Nakarawa after a lineout infringement in the build-up.
Racing out-half Finn Russell created an excellent first-half try for Thomas with an intercept and grubber kick ahead for the flying wing to finish, but they will have major regrets at this missed opportunity as Toulouse deservedly advanced into the semis.
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