At the last minute of a hugely intense final, the Toulouse fly-half scored the winning try after a crazy 60-meter run. The Rochelais, beaten 29 to 26, are cursed in the final of Top 14.
And suddenly an extraordinary explosion. There are 70 seconds left in this high-intensity final. A fight of every second, the two teams going blow for blow. It is then believed that Stade Toulousain will lose on points. The La Rochelle forwards, inexhaustible, hit again and again, offering their striker the decisive penalties. 26-22 for the double European champion. Who camps in the opposite camp. And then, a recovery ball and Romain Ntamack snaps. A hook and a first defender beaten. An acceleration, two more in the wind, a last hook and four. At the end of this crazy and magical race, with breathtaking beauty, the opening half of the XV of France flattens at the foot of the posts. Stade Toulousain is champion (29-26) for the 22e time in its glorious history. Stade Rochelais will not become the 31e French club to raise the shield of Brennus. It fails, as in 2021, against its (red and) black beast.
There was no 80-minute downtime between the two belligerents. From the kick-off, Stade Rochelais, in force with its forwards, tried to push back Toulouse. Who hold on. Even strike a few thunderous tackles. And, when they recover the ball, it is immediately the cavalcade. Like this little kick over Romain Ntamack that he recovers from the nose and beard of Brice Dulin (5e minute). And it was finally Toulouse who opened the scoring through Thomas Ramos, after a first miss from maritime scorer Antoine Hastoy (3-0, 9e). Which recovers to equalize (3-3, 16e).
Toulouse leads the dance…
At this big game of destruction, Stade Toulousain finally has nothing to be ashamed of. At the entrance of the 22 meters in La Rochelle, Emmanuel Meafou charges Levani Botia who remains groggy on the ground and must go out to sacrifice the concussion protocol (19e). An offensive rewarded with a new penalty from Ramos (6-3, 20e). Before the first swing of the final. Kerr-Barlow serves Danty, who commits a forward recovery by Santiago Chocobares. The Argentinian center accelerates and goes to flatten 50 meters further. In corner. This does not prevent Thomas Ramos from transforming the test (13-3, 22e).
Despite this first break, Grégory Alldritt and his teammates did not lower their heads and resumed their work of wear. In the first two closed scrums of the match, the Rochelais collected two penalties, Wardi then Atonio taking the best of Aldegheri and Baille respectively. Allowing Hastoy, after a second miss, to score 3 points for the double European champion (13-6, 30e).
… But La Rochelle regains the lead
One minute from the break, behind a touch, François Cros commits a forward on his five-meter line. Small mistake and big consequence. The La Rochelle scrum pushes hard, the big ones attack the line and it is finally the New Zealand scrum half, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, who flattens. A test transformed by Hastoy for a parity score at the mermaid (13-13).
In the wake of an indefatigable Alldritt, the Maritimes immediately went on the attack. Hit ever harder in the red and black wall. The hooker Pierre Bourgarit ends up crossing it, escaping in the 22 meters from Toulouse. A point of fixation further, the pillar Uini Atonio gives for the first time of the match the advantage to Stade Rochelais (13-20, 44e). The Toulousains seem to be showing signs of fatigue, conceding a lot (too many) penalties. At the 57e minute, Meafou leaves the arena in bad shape, proof that the fight of heavyweights, heavyweights is definitely turning in favor of the overpowering Rochelle pack.
And in the end, Toulouse wins
Paradoxically, indiscipline then wins the Yellow and Black. Three consecutive penalties (51e60e63e) converted by Thomas Ramos (19 points in the end, 7/8 from success). Stade Toulousain is back in front (22-20), can start to believe it. But, once again, it was the solid and fierce La Rochelle forwards who put their team back in the lead.
As on this umpteenth melee sunk, scattered, humiliated. Antoine Hastoy pes two additional penalties (16 points, at 6/8). Stade Rochelais leads 26-22. There are less than ten minutes left to play. It will take just one last for Romain Ntamack to emerge and definitively change the course of history.