Richie Gray helps Toulouse win French Top 14 final
Richie Gray came off the bench to help Toulouse win the Top 14 final at the Stade de France in Paris last night, beating Clermont Auvergne, for whom Greig Laidlaw kicked five penalties.
Clermont shrugged off the loss of international flanker Arthur Iturria to injury less than half an hour before kick off and took the lead when Laidlaw banged over a second minute penalty.
Thomas Ramos replied in kind and the pair exchanged three pointers as the match limped towards the end of the first quarter with little evidence of the scintillating rugby that had produced a flurry of points when Toulouse chalked up a 47-44 league win in April.
The game sparked into life in 27 minutes and Toulouse took the lead for the first time when Yoann Huget sprinted in at the corner for an unconverted try. However, with Toulouse full back Cheslin Kolbe yellow carded, Clermont ended the half strongly and went in at the break only two points adrift after Scotland scrum-half Laidlaw booted his third penalty of the evening.
Gray, pictured, entered the fray three minutes after the restart. Ramos and Laidlaw added three more points apiece before Toulouse established a nine point lead when Huget crossed for a second time and Ramos converted. Laidlaw clawed back three points after an hour but Ramos cancelled out that effort before the Scot was replaced by Charlie Cassang with 12 minutes to play. Camille Lopez added three more points for Clermont but Toulouse held out to secure a 20th title.
The victory will come as a welcome tonic for Gray who was left out of Scotland’s World Cup training squad last month by coach Gregor Townsend.