European Rugby Champions Cup 2014-15

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Champions Cup Final
Mitchell stunner ensures Toulon complete historic treble
ESPN Staff
May 2, 2015
Report Match details
Date/Time: May 2, 2015, 17:00 local, 16:00 GMT
Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London
Clermont Auvergne 18 - 24 Toulon
Half-time: 11 - 16
Tries: Abendanon, Fofana
Cons: Lopez
Pens: Lopez 2
Tries: Bastareaud, Mitchell
Cons: Halfpenny
Pens: Halfpenny 4
Mathieu Bastareaud of Toulon barges over to score his team's first try during the European Rugby Champions Cup Final match between ASM Clermont Auvergne and RC Toulon at Twickenham Stadium on May 2, 2015 in London
Mathieu Bastareaud's try on the stroke of half-time snatched the lead for Toulon
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A superb try by Drew Mitchell sealed a historic third successive European success for Toulon as they came from behind to defeat Clermont Auvergne in the inaugural Champions Cup final at Twickenham.

With the teams separated by one point with 10 minutes to go, Mitchell burst through from near halfway, beating six would-be tacklers and diving over the line for a spectacular try to push Toulon out of reach.

It had not been plain sailing for the reigning European champions, however. They trailed after 24 minutes when a chargedown by Morgan Parra allowed Wesley Fofana to snaffle the rebound and sprint for the corner to score the game's first try, extending Clermont's lead to 11-3 midway through the first half.

However, Leigh Halfpenny reduced the deficit with two penalties and as time expired in the first half, Mathieu Bastareaud bashed over from close range to snatch a barely deserved lead for Toulon at the break.

The match fell into a stupor in the third quarter, with Noa Nakaitaci stupidly giving away a penalty for throwing the ball away, and Halfpenny added three more points to Toulon's advantage.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Nick Abendanon chipped over and sprinted through the Toulon defence to score a try beneath the posts, closing the gap to one point with 17 minutes to play.

But Toulon's class eventually told, with Mitchell providing a moment of magic that will would have graced any final.

Clermont have now lost 13 times on the domestic and European stages - 10 French Championship final losses, two European Cup finals and one European Challenge Cup final - as ruthless Toulon closed in on another league and cup double.

Toulon currently lead the French Top 14 by four points from Clermont, and that will now be their focus once celebrations have died down following a latest European triumph that saw their fierce rivals go the same way as they had done in 2013, while Saracens finished second best to them last season.

Clermont arrived at Twickenham for the first time since last campaign's 46-6 semi-final humiliation against Saracens, although they avenged that defeat in St Etienne two weeks ago. They suffered a late blow, though, when fly-half Brock James suffered a thigh strain during the warm-up, so Lopez started and Mike Delany was drafted on to the bench.

Toulon, meanwhile, switched Australian star Matt Giteau from centre to fly-half, with Bastareaud and Juan Martin Hernandez teaming up in midfield, Mitchell replacing an injured Delon Armitage and Armitage's brother Steffon featuring alongside back-row colleagues Juan Smith and Chris Masoe.

Clermont served immediate notice of their attacking intent when England World Cup hopeful Abendanon delivered a brilliant pass to wing Naipolioni Nalaga, but Nalaga lost his radar as the line approached and threw a wild inside pass.

Clermont continued to look the more threatening team, though, and two Lopez penalties in quick succession gave them a deserved 6-0 lead as Toulon found themselves on the back foot. Giteau apart, Toulon were slow into the contest, but they reduced their arrears when Halfpenny slotted a 17th-minute penalty.

But Clermont continued in the ascendancy, and their territorial dominance was rewarded after 25 minutes when Parra charged down his opposite number Sebastien Tillous-Borde's attempted clearance to create an opportunity inside Toulon's half.

The ball bounced relatively kindly, yet Fofana's finish was sublime, as he outstripped Toulon's defence along a narrow channel near the touchline to give Clermont a deserved 11-6 advantage.

Toulon, though, did not require a second invitation to take their chances when they materialised, and Halfpenny completed his penalty hat-trick seven minutes before half-time. Clermont looked to close out the half, yet Toulon were not to be denied, and they conjured an outstanding try just seconds before the break that stemmed from number eight Masoe's powerful run when he brushed off Abendanon in midfield.

The stadium clock showed that time was up, so all Abendanon had to do was kick the ball into touch, but he tried a chip and chase that resulted in Toulon gaining a half-chance that they duly accepted.

Mitchell also played his part, but it was largely a case of patient recycling before Bastareaud powered over from close range, with Halfpenny's conversion giving Toulon a 16-11 half-time lead.

Toulon took that momentum into the second period, and Armitage bumped off Abendanon through a crunching show of power, creating space out wide, but Giteau threw a wild pass when Clermont's line was at his mercy.

Another Halfpenny penalty made it 19-11, but Clermont grabbed a lifeline when Abendanon strutted his stuff, which set up a pulsating finale.

Mitchell, though, administered the final scoring act of a quality final, and Toulon once again took silverware back to the Cote d'Azur.

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