Leinster were booted out of the Heineken Cup by David Skrela as Toulouse booked their place in final with a 26-16 victory. The French side took a 9-0 lead with three Skrela penalties but the reigning champions battled back to level the tie. Leinster were defiant until the end but paid the price for leaking two tries to Yannick Jauzion and Skrela in the space of four minutes heading into the final quarter.
Man of the match Skrela had the greatest impact on the scoreboard with a 21-point haul topped by his superb try, but Toulouse's scrum also did major damage. Jamie Heaslip's 65th-minute try gave the 4,000 travelling fans brief hope of a revival but that was soon extinguished when Skrela hit a fourth penalty to put Toulouse back in command. In the Super 14, the CA Brumbies kept their season alive with a vital 29-12 bonus-point win over the Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium yesterday.
The Brumbies came out with the enthusiasm and aggression which had been lacking in recent weeks with their season on the line and the Reds hardly had a sniff. Queensland's playmakers Quade Cooper and Will Genia were targeted from the outset and they were not able to terrorise their opponents as they have done all season. The Brumbies' dominance up front was illustrated by the fact that three of their tries were scored by forwards (Mark Chisholm and Ben Alexander, twice) while Josh Valentine scored the other.
The Wellington Hurricanes won a dramatic game with the Waikato Chiefs 33-27 with late tries by Ma'a Nonu and Neemia Tialata keeping alive their play-off hopes for another week. With the Canterbury Crusaders and NSW Waratahs losing earlier in the round, the Hurricanes had the perfect opportunity to get themselves right back in the play-off hunt but they left it late with Nonu rampaging his way over for his second try before Tialata's score at the end got his team the much-needed bonus point.
The Chiefs looked in control at half-time with a 24-15 lead after wrapping up the bonus point with first-half tries for Jackson Willison, Sona Taumalolo, Tim Nanai-Williams and Liam Messam. Juan Smith, the Springbok loose-forward, was among the try-scorers as the Free State Cheetahs dashed the Auckland Blues' semi-final hopes with a 36-32 five-try victory yesterday. The New Zealanders, in 10th spot, needed to win their final three matches to stand any chance of reaching the final four.
The Golden Lions equalled the worst losing run in Super rugby history with their 11th straight defeat when they were beaten 33-12 by the Western Force. Tries by Scott Staniforth, David Hill and Mark Bartholomeusz gave Force the win. * With agencies