Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Heineken Cup Semi Final Action
The 2010-2011 Heineken Cup Semi Finals took place in Ireland and England over the weekend with the home sides both advancing to the final after picking up wins over their French opposition. The first Semi-Final took place in Dublin at the Aviva Stadium in front of a sell out crowd of 50,000 with the home side, Leinster knocking-over last seasons champions, Toulouse in a repeat of last years semi final which Toulouse won at home. The rematch was very tense and certainly lived up to the billing and Los Pumas secondrower, Patricio Albacete put in a trademark performance for the French club. Toulouse got off to an early lead thanks to a piece of luck as former French international flyhalf David Skrela´s penalty attempt hit the post and centre Florian Fritz took the rebound to put Toulouse 7-0 ahead following Skrela´s successful conversion attempt. Leinster fought back with a penalty to Irish international flyhalf Johnny Sexton but David Skrela restored a seven point lead with a drop goal in the eleventh minute of play. Sexton´s second penalty three minutes latter cancelled out Skrela´s drop goal and when Irish international backrower scored in the 30th minute Leinster took a 13-10 lead. Skrela and Sexton then exchanged penalties as Leinster went into the break leading 16-13.
Toulouse started the secondhalf with a book as former French international backrower, Louis Picamoles went over for a try in the 43rd minute. With Skrela´s conversion, Toulouse held a 20-16 lead. Both teams were playnig expansive rugby, using the width of the field and throwing everything at their opposition. Leinster were the more successful as the half continued and Sexton restored Leisnter´s lead following two successful penalty goals. Leading 22-20, Leinster pressed on and when legendary Irish international centre, Brian O´Driscoll crossed for a try in the 58th minute it appeared as if victory was all but secured. Toulouse, to their credit, fought back well with countless attacking showing flair and determination but Leinster´s defense proved to be well organized. Replacement flyhalf Nicolas Bezy succeeded in narrowing the lead to 29-23 with a penalty goal in the 74th minute but it was to be Leinster´s day as Sexton slotted his sixth penalty goal on full time to give Leinster a 32-23 victory.
The second Semi-Final took place on Sunday at Milton Keynes as the second placed side in the Aviva Premiership, the Northampton Saints played host to mid-tabled French Top 14, Perpignan. The winner would go on to face Leinster in the Heineken Cup Final at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff on May 21. The English side dominated the early stages of the match and this proved to be enough to get the job done as first half tries to English international fullback, Ben Foden and centre Jon Clarke insdie the first 17 minutes of play saw the Saints leading 17-0. The homeside were outscored for the remainder of the match but the early lead proved to be decisive as Northampton went on to win the match 23-7. Flyhalf Stephen Myler kicked the remaining six points for the Saints after converting both tries and also succeeding with a first half penalty.
Perpignan´s try was scored by French international hooker, Guilhem Guirado in the 38th minute which was converted by fullback Jerome Porical to at that stage make the scored 20-7 but with the only points of the second half coming from a mere one penalty to Myler the English side took out the match. Retired Argentine international secondrower, Rimas Alvarez, started for Perpignan and will be heading into retirement from professional rugby as Frenhc champion after winning the Top 14 title in 2009 but his change at European glory has gone.
Résumé du match Northampton USAP - demi finale... por USAP_Communication