Toulouse rule Europe again
Skrela and Fritz stick boot into Biarritz in Heineken Cup final
Last Updated: 22/05/10 9:58pm
Kings of Europe: Toulouse
David Skrela and Florian Fritz kicked Toulouse to their fourth Heineken Cup final triumph with a 21-19 victory over Biarritz in Paris.
Biarritz led 9-3 after half-an-hour thanks to three penalties from Dimitri Yachvili but Toulouse, appearing in a record sixth final, took control thereafter thanks to their forwards.
Fritz slotted a penalty and drop goal and Skrela landed two penalties to turn things around before half-time.
And, despite losing Patricio Albacete to the sin-bin in the 49th minute, they made light of their numerical disadvantage as two Skrela drop goals and a penalty padded the lead to 21-12 entering the final 10 minutes.
Karmicheal Hunt's 73rd-minute converted try for Biarritz set up a tense finale but Toulouse held firm to regain the status of European champions for the first time since 2005.
A hat-trick of Yachvili penalties, each sweetly struck from out wide, allowed Biarritz to emerge in credit from the early exchanges.
Try-scoring chances were at a premium but Toulouse's pack, in particular at the scrum, exerted increasing influence as the opening 40 minutes wore on.
Centre Fritz's penalty from inside his own half put them on the board in the 21st minute and, with a steady stream of three-point chances coming their way as Biarritz struggled to compete up front, they moved ahead for the first time just before half-time.
Fly-half Skrela's two penalties and a drop goal from Fritz in the 39th minute put Toulouse 12-9 up at the break.
That should have been increased shortly after the resumption when winger Maxime Medard dropped the ball with a man free outside and the whitewash looming.
Biarritz had renewed when hooker Benoit August was hauled down by Albacete as he chased his own kick in the 49th minute.
The result was a yellow card for lock Albacete for denying a scoring chance and three more points from Yachvili's left foot to leave the scores level at 12-12.
But the Basque side failed to take advantage of their extra man, indeed they found themselves 18-12 down when Albacete returned to the fray thanks to a pair of Skrela drop goals.
Skrela extended the cushion to nine points, and took his personal tally to 15, with his third penalty in the 68th minute.
Biarritz were not quite finished and finally graced the occasion with a try when Australian rugby league convert Hunt finished off a flowing move with seven minutes remaining.
Yachvili's replacement Valentine Courrent converted to reduce the deficit to two points but, despite throwing the ball wide at every opportunity as the clock ran down, Toulouse remained stout in defence to seal the win.