Toulouse 26-16 Leinster, Heineken Cup Semi-Final, May 1
Noves relieved to come through Leinster test
May 1, 2010
Toulouse scrum-half Byron Kelleher congratulates team-mate David Skrela © Getty Images
Toulouse coach Guy Noves admitted the French aristocrats had been pushed all the way by Leinster following his side's 26-16 Heineken Cup semi-final victory.
Tournament favourites Toulouse booked their place in the Paris finale on May 22 with a impressive second-half display that saw Yannick Jauzion and man of the match David Skrela touch down.
"We are very happy because it was clearly very hard out there," he said. "We controlled the game for the first 30 minutes then it seemed to slip away. But we reacted well in the second half and came back into it.
"This win exceeds all our expectations. We have been through a difficult season and now we are offering to the people who supported us all the way a final in France. It's pure bliss because to reach that point means you have done a lot of work and a good job for months and even years. It's a fantastic reward," he added.
"I'm proud because this is an immense achievement - this is the sixth time Toulouse have reached the final. I'm Biarritz's biggest fan and I hope they have a good match tomorrow so that it will be a magnificent all-French final.
Leinster coach Michael Cheika took scant consolation from his side's fighting spirit as the champions bowed relinquished their crown. Cheika, Leinster's head coach who will join Stade Francais at the end of the season, believes his side failed to do themselves justice.
"We're very disappointed because we felt we had it in us to go two finals in a row, which isn't easy to do," he said. "We felt like we'd built up the momentum in the team to do that. We fought as hard as we could. Maybe once upon a time that would have been seen as a really courageous loss.
"We put everything on the line and physically we were good, taking it right to them, but you have to be accurate at this level. We knew that we'd be battling good periods of the game when they had a lot of momentum and we had to keep our shape which we did reasonably well.
"But what killed us was the management of our possession. We let ball go too easily and probably kicked it away too much. We still had enough opportunities in the game if we'd just been more clinical in attack. We kept giving the ball back to them and that enabled them to build their momentum."
Leinster were pulverised throughout at the scrum and still struggled when Cian Healy was replaced by CJ van de Linde.
"Cian came off and we tried to change the picture a little bit. The scrums probably cost us two to three running opportunities," said Cheika. "At this level every one of those counts. When we did have some parity in the scrum we didn't manage the ball well."