The first half was a tight tussle as both teams threw everything on attack and created opportunities at will, scoring a try apiece, but Stade Toulousain fullback Thomas Ramos’ three penalty goals to only one by Cell C Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch handed the hosts a 14-10 halftime lead.

The five-time European champions underlined their class as they finished with a flurry in the second half scoring six tries – four of which in the last 12 minutes – to only one by the visitors for the rewarding victory.

Stade Toulousain started the clash on a challenging note as wing Juan Cruz Mallia received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle in the eighth minute and the Durbanites took advantage of this with Bosch kicking a penalty goal to earn the first points of the match.

Both teams tried to assert themselves on attack and find gaps in defence as the half progressed, with the hosts having a golden opportunity to score in the 14th minute, but the ball went forward from the last pass before it was grounded over the line.

The KwaZulu-Natalians followed in the 18th minute and managed to get over the chalk, but obstruction was ruled by the referee. Stade Toulousain levelled the scores four minutes later with Ramos kicking his first penalty goal in the 22nd minute.

But this was short-lived as Bosch made a stunning break through the defence from deep inside his own half before his inside pass found scrumhalf Grant Williams, who dashed to the tryline, and the extra two by the flyhalf pushed them into a 10-3 lead.

Ramos narrowed their deficit to four points in the 31st minute, before Mallia snuck through in the corner for their first try of the game in the 36th minute and Ramos ensured that they entered the break 14-10 ahead thanks to his third penalty goal on the stroke of halftime.


Grant Williams goes over for the first try of the match.

Grant Williams goes over for the first try of the match.

The French outfit picked off where they left off six minutes after play resumed with Ramos rounding off a great try next to the uprights, and he added the conversion to stretch their lead to 21-10.

The Cell C Sharks had a key chance to close the gap on the scoreboard several minutes later, but they lost the ball forward close to the tryline. Despite they made up for this with fullback Boeta Chamberlain gathering a pass and stepped on the gas to score their second try of the match and Bosch’s conversion made it a four-point game with a little over a quarter to play.

Stade Toulousain scored their third try soon after as they spread the ball wide and Mallia earned his brace after diving over the line in dramatic fashion to hold off a defender and the conversion nudged them 26-17 ahead shortly before the fourth quarter.

The Cell C Sharks almost cancelled this out minutes later as Springbok wing Makazole Mapimpi danced his way through the defence and handed off to Williams, but the try was cancelled out as a forward pass was called from the base of a ruck.

Bosch reduced their deficit to 26-20 in the 66th minute with his second penalty goal with 13 minutes left on the clock, but the hosts again increased their lead with their fourth try a minute later as hooker Peato Mauvaka gathered a stunning pop pass to force his way over the tryline and they were soon 13 points ahead.

This bolstered their confidence as Ramos crashed over for his second of the match with minutes left in the game and he converted it to extend their lead before replacement back Arthur Retiere added another in the closing stages to go 47-20 up.

They showed their fighting spirit until the final whistle with flyhalf Romain Ntamack navigating his way through the defence for their fourth try within 13 minutes for a 54-20 victory to book their place in the semi-final, knocking the Durbanites out of the competition.


Stade Toulousain 54 (14) – Tries: Juan Cruz Mallia (2), Thomas Ramos (2), Peato Mauvaka, Arthur Retiere, Romain Ntamack. Conversions: Ramos (5). Penalty goals: Ramos (3).

Cell C Sharks 20 (10) - Tries: Grant Williams, Boeta Chamberlain. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalty goals: Bosch (2).