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Edinburgh 19 Toulouse 14

Edinburgh 19 Toulouse 14: Scots stun French giants to reach semi-finals

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UPDATED:

16:45 GMT, 7 April 2012

Edinburgh produced a stunning victory over French giants Toulouse to become the first Scottish side to reach the last four of the Heineken Cup.

Playing in front of 37,881 spectators, a record crowd for a quarter-final in Britain, Edinburgh had an early try by Mike Blair and a string of successful kicks from Greig Laidlaw to thank for the historic result.

The home side had to come from behind to overhaul the visitors, who scored an outstanding try through Timoci Matanavou and added nine points from Lionel Beauxis.

Party time: Edinburgh celebrate their stunning win over Toulouse

Party time: Edinburgh celebrate their stunning win over Toulouse

Edinburgh made a perfect start and snatched the lead inside two minutes.
Laidlaw launched an up and under from the edge of the Toulouse 22, and when the Frenchmen failed to gather, scrum-half Blair pounced and rolled over to touch down. Laidlaw added the conversion.

Beauxis booted a long-range penalty which just crept over the bar in the fourth minute, and reduced the deficit further with a second 15 minutes later.

Perfect start: Mike Blair scored an early try for Edinburgh to send them on their way to victory

Perfect start: Mike Blair scored an early try for Edinburgh to send them on their way to victory

Edinburgh lost the services of Allan Jacobsen for 10 minutes when the prop was despatched to the sin-bin for blocking Matanavou as the Toulouse winger attempted to take a quick penalty. However, Beauxis fired the resulting penalty wide.

Within a minute the visitors were ahead for the first time and Edinburgh lost another man to the sin-bin. This time Ross Rennie was the offender and Beauxis made no mistake from close range.

Kicking king: Edinburgh fly-half Greig Laidlaw kicks a penalty against Toulouse

Kicking king: Edinburgh fly-half Greig Laidlaw kicks a penalty against Toulouse

And it got worse for the Scots when Matanavou gathered a speculative kick ahead inside his own 22 and turned on the afterburners to blast his way over for a spectacular solo try.

Jacobsen's return to the fray sparked fresh impetus in the home ranks and when Nick De Luca carried the ball into contact, Laidlaw positioned himself perfectly to take the pass and send a sweetly struck drop goal between the sticks to leave Toulouse 14-10 ahead at the interval.

ChargeL Toulouse led at the interval but were pegged back by Edinburgh

ChargeL Toulouse led at the interval but were pegged back by Edinburgh

Blair was forced off with a shoulder injury but Edinburgh made a rousing start to the second period.

Toulouse hooker William Servat committed a blatant offside offence and became the third player to be yellow carded, presenting Laidlaw with a straightforward penalty.

Joining in the fun: David Denton celebrates with the team mascot

Joining in the fun: David Denton celebrates with the team mascot

He made no mistake and his next successful kick on 50 minutes fired the hosts into a 16-14 lead.

The four-time champions had an opportunity to strike back instantly, but Beauxis suffered his third miss of the afternoon.

Edinburgh now had their tails up with Tim Visser offering a glimpse of his pace and further pressure yielding a penalty just inside the Toulouse half which proved to be beyond Laidlaw's range.

Up in the air: Edinburgh's Tim Visser gets to grips with Toulouse's Burgess

Up in the air: Edinburgh's Tim Visser gets to grips with Toulouse's Burgess

Toulouse coach Guy Noves rang the changes as the game entered the final quarter, but Edinburgh continued to play the game in the opposition's half.

Nevertheless, the tenuous nature of the two-point advantage meant it was an uncomfortable finale for Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley before Laidlaw slotted a last-minute penalty to spark delirious scenes on and off the pitch.

Wales 16 France 9: Dragons avenge Auckland by winning third Grand Slam in eight years

Wales 16 France 9: Dragons avenge Auckland and win third Grand Slam in eight years

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UPDATED:

17:48 GMT, 17 March 2012

Wales won their second RBS 6 Nations title and Grand Slam of Warren Gatland's coaching reign as they conquered Europe five months after reaching the World Cup semi-finals.

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Glorious: Wales celebrate their Grand Slam at the Millennium Stadium

France suffered only a second Six
Nations defeat in Cardiff as Wales only occasionally showed signs of
nerves or tension that could easily have gripped a team containing seven
players aged 24 and under.

Davies would have applauded some of
the rugby Wales produced, a wonderfully refreshing approach that reaped a
stunning solo try for wing Alex Cuthbert after 21 minutes, while
full-back Leigh Halfpenny took his Six Nations points tally this season
to 66 with three penalties and a conversion.

France huffed and puffed in an
attempt to spoil the party, and they had their moments, but penalties by
half-backs Dimitri Yachvili (two) and Lionel Beauxis were not quite
enough as Halfpenny's 76th-minute strike settled it.

Magic moment: Wales toast victory on the final whistle

Magic moment: Wales toast victory on the final whistle

To the victors, the spoils: Gethin Jenkins celebrates at the final whistle

A third Grand Slam in eight seasons
matches the achievement of Wales' 1970s golden era teams and guaranteed
folklore status for Gatland's thrillingly-talented generation.

But the ambitious New Zealander, a
red-hot favourite to be installed as British and Irish Lions coach next
month for the 2013 Australia tour, will set bigger targets.

Wales have a three-Test trip to
Australia ahead this summer, then face a November appointment with world
champions New Zealand in Cardiff, and it is against heavyweight
southern hemisphere opposition that Gatland knows his squad will
ultimately be judged.

No stopping him: Alex Cuthbert en route to his stunning score

No stopping him: Alex Cuthbert en route to his stunning score

They have taken Europe by storm,
though, and the upward curve continues under Gatland, one which he hopes
will take them all the way to World Cup 2015 in England as major
contenders.

Skipper Sam Warburton returned for
only his third start in this season's tournament after being sidelined
by thigh and knee injuries, which meant no place for Justin Tipuric, who
impressed on his first Test start against Italy last weekend.

France, having seen their title hopes
ruined by a failure to beat Ireland and England at home, showed five
changes, while hooker William Servat and flanker Julien Bonnaire made
their final appearances before international retirement.

Catch me if you can: Cuthbert evades Clement Poitrenaud on the way to the line

Score: Cuthbert

Catch me if you can: Cuthbert evades Clement Poitrenaud on his way to the line

Wales made the initial running,
establishing a foothold deep inside France's half as they looked to
unleash strong ball-carriers like Cuthbert and outstanding flanker Dan
Lydiate.

There was an impressive commitment
and organisation about the French defence, though, and they dug
themselves out of trouble to allow Yachvili an 11th-minute penalty
chance that he accepted.

Rhys Priestland hit the post with an
equalising penalty chance four minutes later – he was handed the
opportunity while Halfpenny received treatment – but Wales stormed ahead
midway through an entertaining half.

Mobbed: Cuthbert gets the pauldits after his slalom through the French defence

Mobbed: Cuthbert gets the pauldits after his slalom through the French defence

The home side snuffed out a dangerous
French attack, moved upfield at pace, and then after spinning
possession wide, Cuthbert angled his way to the line after a 30-metre
run when he beat three French defenders.

It was a memorable score – Wales'
10th of the Six Nations by their much-vaunted back division – and
Halfpenny's conversion put them 7-3 in front.

Halfpenny then added a penalty eight
minutes before the break as Wales threatened to hit their straps, and
France were forced into a change when injured full-back Clement
Poitrenaud was replaced by Test debutant Jean-Marcel Buttin.

Boy's Own Stuff: Leigh Halfpenny kicks a penalty from his own half to put Wales 13-6 up

Boy's Own Stuff: Leigh Halfpenny kicks a penalty from his own half to put Wales 13-6 up

Wales continued to look comfortably
the more threatening team with ball in hand, yet they could not increase
their advantage, having to settle for a 10-3 interval lead after an
angled Halfpenny strike bounced back off the post.

Warburton's tournament ended at
half-time when he was forced off due to a shoulder injury. Ryan Jones,
Wales' 2008 Grand Slam skipper, replaced him, packing down at number
eight as Toby Faletau took on openside duties.

Prop Gethin Jenkins, Wales captain
against Italy, again led the team in Warburton's absence, yet it meant
the revered World Cup leader had played just 160 minutes of a possible
400 in this season's Six Nations.

Dominant: Toby Faletau wins a lineout during the first-half

Dominant: Toby Faletau wins a lineout during the first-half

Wales appeared unsettled by
Warburton's early exit, and a Beauxis penalty after 45 minutes cut the
gap to four points, prompting Les Bleus' best attacking spell of the
game when they stretched their opponents in all directions.

But Wales somehow kept their line
intact, and when Halfpenny booted a monster penalty from 51 metres –
evoking memories of the one he missed by inches in the World Cup
semi-final – it restored a seven-point advantage.

The final 10 minutes were inevitably
fraught from a Welsh perspective, yet they kept their composure and held
on with Yachvili and Halfpenny exchanging penalties before the mother
of all rugby parties could commence.

Poignant: The Millennium Stadium remembers Mervyn Davies, who lost his battle with cancer on Thursday

Poignant: The Millennium Stadium remembers Mervyn Davies, who lost his battle with cancer on Thursday

SIX NATIONS 2012: France"s Julien Dupuy back to face England after gouging ban

Rattled French go for gouger Dupuy ahead of England clash

England will face former Leicester star Julien Dupuy in his first international start since a controversial six-month ban for gouging.

The scrum-half has been recalled to the French squad for Sunday’s clash at the Stade de France and has displaced Morgan Parra, who is demoted to the bench.

Dupuy, who appeared as a second-half substitute against Scotland last month, was banned in January 2010 after gouging Ulster’s Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris when playing for Stade Francais.

Flying return: France's scrum half Julien Dupuy is back in contention

Flying return: France's scrum half Julien Dupuy is back in contention

Stade appealed, but the ban was only reduced by a week from 24 to 23 weeks. The case prompted Stade’s flamboyant owner Max Guazzini to claim Dupuy had been banned for so long because he was ‘French.’

Since his return he has lost out to Parra and Dimitri Yachvilifor a place in the French squad. Dupuy had left Biarritz for Leicester in June 2008 and helped the Tigers to a Premiership title and a place in the Heineken Cup final, which they lost to Leinster.

He was due to stay another season only for Stade to pay a transfer fee of around 90,000 after Dupuy had gained a place in the French squad which beat New Zealand 27-22 in Dunedin.

The 28-year-old dismissed the gouging as ancient history. ‘It’s like ages ago to me. I am more mature,’ he said. ‘It’s such a pleasure to start against England. I longed for it. I would be all the more pleased meeting Leicester players after our victory.’

One in the eye: Dupuy gouges Ferrisken sutton

One in the eye: Dupuy gouges Ferrisken sutton

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre is aiming to use the kicking skills of Dupuy and new fly-half Lionel Beauxis, who has replaced Francois Trinh-Duc, to pin England back.

The former Sale coach explaisaid: ‘The aim is to have a long kicking game to counter English attempts to occupy territory by playing “ping-pong”. It’s also because during our first three games we struggled to get going, and had trouble getting out of our half during the first 20 minutes.’

Apart from the change at halfback, Saint-Andre has kept faith in the team who drew 17-17 against Ireland last Sunday in Paris. Despite that disappointment, he still believes France can still win the tournament.

‘We will produce a big performance against England,’ he said. ‘What was incredible against Ireland was how we dominated possession, set pieces, penalties, line breaks and tackles. But dominating is not winning.’

SIX NATIONS 2012: France recall Lionel Beauxis and Julien Dupuy to face England

France recall Beauxis and Dupuy to face England as Saint-Andre ditches half-back pair

Philippe Saint-Andre has dropped Morgan Parra and Francois Trinh-Duc from the France team to face against England on Sunday, replacing them with Julien Dupuy at scrum-half and Lionel Beauxis at fly-half.

Saint-Andre has made no other changes from the team that rallied from a 17-6 half-time deficit to draw 17-17 at home to Ireland last weekend.

Aurelien Rougerie was tipped to lose his place after giving away a try against Ireland with an intercepted pass, but the centre keeps his spot.

Out and in: Morgan Parra (left) and Lionel Beauxis (right) on Wednesday

Out and in: Morgan Parra (left) and Lionel Beauxis (right) on Wednesday

Big calls: Philippe Saint-Andre (left) has shown he is not afraid to tinker with his team

Big calls: Philippe Saint-Andre (left) has shown he is not afraid to tinker

FRANCE TEAM TO FACE ENGLAND

Clement Poitrenaud, Vincent Clerc, Aurelien Rougerie, Wesley Fofana, Julien Malzieu, Lionel Beauxis, Julien Dupuy, Jean-Baptiste Poux, Dimitri Szarzewski, Nicolas Mas, Pascal Pape, Yoann Maestri, Thierry Dusautoir, Julien Bonnaire, Imanol Harinordoquy.

Parra helped France scramble to the draw by kicking four clinical penalties, but he and Trinh-Duc failed to get France's attacking game going.

Beauxis has a chance to banish memories of the last time he faced England – the World Cup semi-final loss at Stade de France in 2007.

Rory Lamont suspected broken leg

Suspected broken leg for Scotland wing Lamont sustained during France defeat

Scotland wing Rory Lamont suffered a suspected broken leg in the 23-17 RBS 6 Nations loss to France at Murrayfield on Sunday.

Lamont was winning his 29th cap and was replaced after 30 minutes after landing awkwardly while contesting a restart.

The Glasgow Warriors back was taken from the field on a stretcher, with Scotland leading 10-7.

Help: Rory Lamont receives treatment

Help: Rory Lamont receives treatment

Lamont required lengthy treatment before going off, with Mike Blair (dead leg) and Greig Laidlaw (head knock) also leaving the field prematurely.

Head coach Andy Robinson said: 'We lacked a little bit of composure when Rory Lamont went off just before half-time, which allowed France back into the game.'

Rugby World Cup finalists France clawed back an early 10-0 deficit and responded swiftly to going 17-13 down midway through the second half to triumph, although there were numerous positives for Scotland.

Stuart Hogg and Lee Jones scored their first Test tries, Greig Laidlaw kicked five points and Duncan Weir two, but France responded with tries from Wesley Fofana and Maxime Medard, 10 points from Morgan Parra and a Lionel Beauxis drop goal.

Blow: Lamont's ankle appears to twist under pressure from a tackle

Blow: Lamont's ankle appears to twist under pressure from a tackle

Scotland, who lost to England and Wales earlier this month, have beaten France once in 13 attempts in Six Nations competition – in 2006 – and have now lost five successive Test matches for the first time since 2004, when they finished with the Wooden Spoon.

It is a record which will lead to further conjecture over the future of Robinson – now with two wins from 13 Six Nations fixtures in charge – but there were further illustrations of why the former England boss retains belief in his charges.

Robinson, who has a contract with the Scottish Rugby Union until after the 2015 World Cup, was asked whether he intends to remain in post or if he might resign at the end of the tournament.

'I can't hide away from what you're saying and you're right to bring it up,' said Robinson of the damning statistics.

Sad: Scotland head coach Andy Robinson confirmed the injury

Sad: Scotland head coach Andy Robinson confirmed the injury

'I have total belief that we have the ability to win and that belief was strengthened even more today, as it was against Wales and the England game.'

Robinson lamented the decision of referee Wayne Barnes to award France a second-half penalty, when the head coach believed it should have been given to the hosts for two indiscretions by visiting centre Aurelien Rougerie, who went through a ruck and to ground before kicking the ball while on the floor.

Robinson added: 'I think the turning point of the game was at 17-13 and a penalty which I believe – and I have watched it – should go Scotland's way in front of the referee. It doesn't and France go and score seven points.

'There were two offences which we felt could have been picked up – and pretty clear as well.

'That was a key moment of the game. It changed the balance of it.'

France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre had no complaints about Barnes' performance, but when questioned about Robinson's reaction to Medard's try, wondered about the validity of Jones' score, which came after John Barclay won the ball cleanly.

Delight: Maxime Medard runs in his try

Delight: Maxime Medard runs in his try

He said: 'Maybe I can complain about the (Jones) try in the second half. It was so quick, for me it was a ruck and after I saw the ball it was a try. I need to watch the game again to say exactly.

'I found the referee very consistent. It was a very quick game with a lot of turnovers by both sides.'

Saint-Andre praised the character of his side and paid tribute to Scotland's display.

He added: 'I'm proud of my team because it was physical, it was hard, but we didn't panic.

'Scotland were fantastic in the first 20 minutes. They played very well.

'They play a quick game and it was tough for us, but after the 20 minutes and after we were 10 points down we controlled the game.

'Second half our scrum was good, in the ruck we did very well.

'It's a good win, but I'm sure if Scotland carry on like this they can beat any team in the world.'

France now play Ireland – in a postponed game due to a frozen pitch – England and Wales in successive weeks.

'It's a huge game for us next Sunday in the Stade de France, if it's not freezing,' Saint-Andre said.

Medard went off midway through the second half with a knee injury and is set to undergo a scan on Monday.

Gloucester 34 Toulouse 24: Charlie Sharples stars in famous win

Gloucester 34 Toulouse 24: Magic May runs the show in famous victory

Gloucester stunned French champions Toulouse thanks to their group of speedsters led by Jonny May and Charlie Sharples.

May scored two tries and Sharples one as Gloucester finished the Heineken Cup pool games in euphoric mood at Kingsholm.

Gloucester finished third in Pool Six and must now concentrate on the Aviva Premiership but Toulouse, despite the defeat, still qualified for the quarter-finals as pool winners following Harlequins’ shock defeat.

Famous win: The Cherry and Whites celebrate their victory over Toulouse

Famous win: The Cherry and Whites celebrate their victory over Toulouse

‘That was a great performance,’ Gloucester head coach Bryan Redpath said. ‘We knew they had picked a strong team but I thought everyone, including all the subs, made a difference. They were a credit.’

Sharples and May showed why they will be playing for England teams in the next month. Sharples, a candidate for the Calcutta Cup on February 4, made one first-half try for flanker Akapusi Qera followed by his own classic second-half effort which had 13,077 fans on their feet.

Flying high: Luke Narraway wins a lineout for the home side

Flying high: Luke Narraway wins a lineout for the home side

May played a part in that 47th-minute try, converted by Freddie Burns, who contributed 14 points in all, and that score put Gloucester 21-17 ahead.

Toulouse had been 17-14 up at the break thanks to tries from captain Thierry Dusautoir and wing Timoci Matanavou, both converted by Lionel Beauxis, who added a penalty.

Burns put Gloucester 24-17 ahead through a penalty, only for Toulouse to draw level via Matanavou’s second touchdown.

Speed demons: May (second right) and Sharples (right) both starred in the win

Speed demons: May (second right) and Sharples (right) starred in the win

But Burns edged Gloucester ahead again, and May galloped away six minutes from time after James Simpson-Daniel had broken the initial cover.
May’s next stop is the Saxons clash against Ireland at Exeter a week on Saturday.