Toulouse hammer Exeter to set up semi-final against Quins

Toulouse hammer Exeter to set up semi-final against Quins




Tries: Ntamack 8, Willis 32, Kinghorn 48, 56; Ahki 51, 75; Dupont 58, Malia 67, 79

Conversions: Kinghorn 9, 33, 49, 53, 57; Ramos 59, 69, 76

Penalties: Kinghorn 21

Exeter Chiefs……..26

Tries: Roots 17, Wimbush 62

Conversions: Slade 18, 63

Penalties: Slade 6, 13, 29, 44

Toulouse set up a Champions Cup semi-final against Harlequins as they scored 47 second-half points to crush Exeter Chiefs and reach the last four for a sixth consecutive season.

Chiefs opened up a 16-10 lead on the half-hour mark as Ethan Roots’ try and 11 points off the tee from Henry Slade replied to an early Romain Ntamack score and a Blair Kinghorn conversion and penalty.

But England exile Jack Willis put Toulouse in front, and though Slade’s fourth penalty returned Exeter to a narrow advantage four Toulouse tries in ten minutes opened up a decisive lead.

Kinghorn scored twice either side of Pita Ahki’s try under the posts before Antoine Dupont made his mark on the game with a superb finish from 30 metres out.

Exeter pulled a try back through Zach Wimbush but Toulouse added a further three tries as Ahki completed his brace, in between Juan Cruz Malia becoming the third player in red and black to get a double.

Kinghorn, who came off before the hour mark having scored 23 points, said: “The first half was really hard and they came out pumping, but in the second half we managed to get our rugby on the field. This place was right behind us and it was awesome.

“They are a good team, when they are on top they play front foot rugby that is hard to stop, but we dealt with it well. In the second half we came alive.”

Exeter made a strong start from receiving the first kick-off, and deservedly took the lead from the boot of Slade five minutes in.

But from the next restart Toulouse won back possession, and after putting together a solid set of phases were eventually rewarded with Ntamack set up on the inside by Matthis Lebel.

Exeter were showing courageous intent though, and following a Slade penalty that cut the gap to one Peato Mauvaka was set to the sin-bin and Roots crashed over from close range to give the visitors a six-point cushion.

After Kinghorn halved Exeter’s lead Chiefs thought they had opened up a two-score gap as Josh Hodge hacked the ball towards Toulouse’s line after Cyril Baille knocked on in midfield, but Dafydd Jenkins also fumbled in the finish and the hosts could clear.

Slade restored the Devonians six-point cushion, but back to a full compliment Toulouse made sure they held an advantage at the break as Willis barged past Harvey Skinner and Kinghorn converted to put his side in front by a point.

The lead changed hands once again as Slade slotted another penalty, but that would be the last time Exeter would be in front as Kinghorn jinked his way through to score his side’s third before a terrific first phase-play ended with Lebel setting up Akhi to stroll in between the sticks.

Beautiful hands from all of Toulouse’s back three helped Kinghorn finish off another excellent try down the right hand side, and after he converted his replacement Thomas Ramos set up Dupont for another score moments after the restart – with Ramos providing his own conversion to take the lead to 26 points ahead of the final corner.

Exeter showed their own ability off the first phase as Wimbush cut a tight line before powering over, but Toulouse reached their half century through Malia as he provided a simple finish with players queuing up on the right for the hosts, whose relentless continuity was proving too much to cope with for Chiefs.

Willis came close to getting his second try after a brutal 30-yard charge up the field, but though he was stopped just short by Immanuel Feyi-Waboso Ahki went over as the ball was spun wide.

And Malia added a final score on the counter to give Toulouse the highest points tally scored by one team in a Champions Cup quarter-final in more than 25 years.

Kinghorn was one of a number of players who excelled for Toulouse, who would’ve been hard to cope with for any opposition in a relentless second-half showing (Picture: Getty Images)

Toulouse: Kinghorn; Mallia, Barassi, Ahki, Lebel; Ntamack, Dupont (c); Baille, Mauvaka, Aldegheri, Arnold, Meafou, Willis, Cros, Roumat.

Replacements: Marchand, Neti, Merkler, Flament, Brennan, Graou, Ramos, Costes, Chocobares.

Exeter: Hodge; Feyi-Waboso, Slade, Devoto, Woodburn; Skinner, Cairns; Sio, Yeandle, Painter, Tuima, Jenkins (capt), Roots, Tshiunza, Vintcent.

Replacements: Innard, Southworth, Street, Pearson, Fisilau, Townsend, Haydon-Wood, Wimbush.

Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)

Attendance: 18,678

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