Toulon beat Wasps to march into European Champions Cup semi-finals
Last Updated: 05/04/15 9:50pm
Toulon held off a second-half rally from Wasps to reach the European Champions Cup semi-finals and move a step closer to a third European triumph in three years.
The unerring accuracy of Frederic Michalak from the kicking tee was key for Bernard Laporte’s side. The fly-half made sure no Wasps error went unpunished, racking up 22 points in the match, as Toulon won 32-18.
Michalak was first called into action to add the extras in the eighth minute after Mathieu Bastareaud crashed over under the posts to give Toulon the lead.
Alex Lozowski cut the deficit with the first of two first-half penalties for Wasps only for Michalak to reply in kind two minutes later.
Toulon were starting to impose themselves on the game and as hooker Guilhem Guirado found a gap inside the Wasps' 22, Rob Miller was forced to commit a professional foul. The full-back was shown the yellow card and Michalak made no mistake with the subsequent penalty.
A further three kicks followed before the half-time whistle as the hosts went in with a commanding 22-6 lead.
The game followed a similar pattern early in the second half and Delon Armitage looked certain to score in the left-hand corner only to be denied by Miller’s brilliant last-ditch tackle.
Five minutes later the momentum of the game changed completely as a flowing Wasps move ended with William Helu crossing in the corner.
Andy Goode converted and for the next 10 minutes the English outfit were all over the French champions. Toulon defended stoutly, though, and slowly began to reassert themselves.
Another Michalak penalty with a little over 10 minutes remaining looked to ease any lingering nerves in the home camp.
However, Wasps came back once more and a prolonged spell in Toulon territory ended with Helu again going over in the corner.
Goode pushed the kick just wide, but with just seven points separating the sides, the away side knew a converted try would force extra-time.
But those hopes were dashed shortly afterwards as second-row Ali Williams dived over in the corner to finish off a Toulon attack.
That left it, fittingly, to Michalak to round off the scoring with a pinpoint conversion from the right touchline and seal Toulon's place in the last four.