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Barassi and Cuia led Lyon to victory in the final of the Challenge Cup over Toulon European Cup


Toulon had hoped to replicate the former glory days of Johnny Wilkinson and him together, but it was Lyon who came up with the Challenge Cup trophies on a warm night in the south of France. This is the first European title ever claimed in the top 14, and if their confidence is now strengthened, it is unlikely to be the last.

They could have won by an even greater margin if denied at least three more potential attempts in the first half, but were still good enough to turn a slight advantage in the first half at 10-7 into a 20-point cushion before the start of the final quarter. Lyon coach Pierre Mignoni, ironically, is returning to Toulon this summer and will hope that this outcome will have the desired effect on the losers.

As a case, it turned out to be a slightly mixed aperitif for the main event involving Leinster and La Rochelle. The Toulon may have somehow held the Saracens in the semi-finals, but due to the fact that their international winger Gaben Villier was forced to retire prematurely due to a knee injury, they could not evoke anything like the same passion and inspiration.

However, it was another indicator of growing appetite for the big rugby competitions in France. The crowd of more than 51,000 people was a record for the Challenge Cup final, and among the spills and occasional thrills were a few more reminders for Eddie Jones, who watched Les Bleus endure several victories at next year’s Rugby World Cup. .

Jones and his assistant coaches were also on a reconnaissance mission to check out a venue where England would potentially play in the quarter-finals. If this steep, curved arena is even twice as noisy and atmospheric, if there are no fanatical fans of Toulon, it will be special, regardless of the weather.

The temperature was still around 26 degrees Celsius at 21:00 local time when the game started, but it was Lyon that originally kept their heads colder. Only a late run in the accumulation did not allow Batista Kui to score a goal when almost a minute passed, and half of the fight was a legitimate attempt on the board eight minutes later.

Cheslin Kolbe makes a comforting blow for Toulon. Photo: David Rogers / Getty Images

The great Sergio Paris was eager for another trophy to crown a remarkable career, but unfortunately for him, his pass found his opposite number Jordan Taufua, once out of Leicester. The captain of “Lyon” rushed to meet and was also conscious when he was taken to lift the ball from the floor to the supporting Kuyu.

However, sluggish Toulon woke up, and their own international skirmish, Batiste Serin, began and completed a convincing move that drew his side back into the competition. Nerves seemed to hold back both teams for a while before the first 40 minutes ended in dramatic circumstances when young Georgian winger Davit Niniashvili seemed to lead Lyon, already 10-7 ahead, still ahead with an attempt just before the break.

However, a closer look revealed that the tip of his left boot had hit the line of the dead ball, which could prevent English TMO, Jan Tempest, from resting in the Burgundy region this summer. Lyon have already muttered about the decision not to consider a possible attempt by Charlie Ngatai, and the alleged that Americk Luke took the ball into the goal is not fully confirmed by video evidence.

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However, Lyon’s luck had to change. Between the 45th and 50th minutes, they scored 14 invaluable points, the first of which was a well-deserved penalty shootout when Luke was killed for the most outrageous of recent strikes by Niniashvili, believing he would have given up legally this time. a certain score. Against 14 men the mighty Joshua Tuisova worked well, and the well-rated chip of Leo Berdeu fell well on his central Pierre-Louis Barassi.

Another penalty Berdeu increased the lead, effectively shattering Toulon’s hopes of joining Vasps, Bath, Northampton and Leinster and becoming the first French side to make a “double” Heineken Cup and Challenge Cup. Despite yellow cards in the final quarter for Berdeu and Ngatai and a belated consolation for the calm Cheslin Kolbe, Toulon did not have to have a postponement, winning the Challenge Cup finals in 2010, 2012 and 2020, and now has to deal with more one disappointment is the loss of exposure.


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