Toulon set course for third title after beating Leinster 25-20 in extra time
Last Updated: 20/04/15 12:22pm
Toulon will go for a hat-trick of European titles after Bryan Habana's interception try secured a 25-20 extra-time win over Leinster.
Four penalties apiece from Toulon's Leigh Halfpenny and Ian Madigan in an intense and nervy encounter at Marseille's Stade Velodrome meant the two teams had to play two extra periods of 10 minutes.
Halfpenny kicked Toulon ahead, who were then reduced to 14 men after lock Ali Williams was show yellow for taking out Devin Toner in the air at the restart. However Springbok flyer Habana then intercepted Madigan's long pass to score.
Leinster hit back with a Sean O'Brien's try but time ran out for the visitors.
The final will be an all-French affair as Toulon take on Clermont, 13-9 winners over Saracens on Saturday, in the May 2 showpiece at Twickenham.
Turnovers, ruck penalties and handling errors saw out a tight if uninspiring, pressure-laden first-half during which Toulon failed to convert their territorial domination into points.
Halfpenny bagged two penalties to three from Madigan in the opening 40 minutes.
Halfpenny missed a third penalty effort early in the second period, but was then on hand to snuff out a Jimmy Gopperth chargedown in Toulon's 22m area as Leinster pressed.
The Wales and British Lion full-back eventually pulled the scores level after 56 minutes with a penalty as blue skies replaced the rain of the first half.
It was then Madigan's turn to miss a penalty. Toulon immediately sprung back into action as Guilhem Guirado charged down Madigan's clearance kick, with only desperate defence stopping the red surge towards the whitewash.
Gopperth was penalised for not rolling away a minute later, Halfpenny kicking his fourth three-pointer to give Toulon the lead.
But Toulon's Juan Fernandez Lobbe committed a needless infringement in front of referee Wayne Barnes's eagle eye, toe-poking the ball out of a ruck. Madigan made no mistake from long range to draw the scores level again.
With two minutes to play, Gopperth sent a snap drop-goal just wide, and Rob Kearney sent one just short from the resulting 22 kickout in a nerve-racking finish.
Delon Armitage then had a chance to end the game with a 55-metre penalty, but his effort fell well short, meaning extra-time.
Two minutes in, the Toulon scrum forced an Irish infringement and Halfpenny booted his fifth penalty to put the pressure on Leinster.
But once again, Madigan came straight back with one of his own after dangerous play by replacement lock Jocelino Suta.
Suta's boilerhouse partner Williams was then shown a yellow card for making contact with Toner in the air.
Toulon did not sit back despite being down to 14 men, Halfpenny nailing his sixth penalty as the irrepressible Chris Masoe tried to force a turnover. And then Habana intercepted Madigan's long looped pass and sprinted away for a try converted by Halfpenny.
But Leinster heads did not go down, O'Brien being driven over for a try Gopperth failed to convert. Leinster threw everything into the final two minutes but Toulon's defence held firm.
They will now bid for that unprecedented hat-trick of European titles.