Holders Toulon eased into the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup with a 29-14 victory over Leinster on Sunday, ending Brian O’Driscoll’s hopes of a fourth crown.
O’Driscoll, who will end his stellar career at the end of the season after helping Ireland to just their second Six Nations crown since 1985 last month, was also a talismanic figure at club level, propelling Leinster to Heineken Cup titles in 2008-2009, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012.
Second-half tries by prop Xavier Chiocci and Australian wing Drew Mitchell ended Leinster’s resistance at the Stade Mayol, though, earning the French side a semi-final with Munster after they overwhelmed Toulouse 47-23 on Saturday.
Clermont Auvergne, 22-16 winners over Leicester, meet Saracens in the other semi-final after the English Premiership leaders overcame 14-man Ulster 17-15, meaning the same four clubs have reached the semi-finals as last year.
Toulon will be sweating on the fitness of England’s World Cup winning flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson, who left the field in the first half with a hamstring injury having notched two penalties.
Jimmy Gopperth converted two penalties of his own as the sides went into halftime level at 6-6.
Matt Giteau scored a third penalty soon after the restart, before Chiocci crashed over from close range following a sustained period of possession on Leinster’s line.
Gopperth trimmed the gap to seven points after 54 minutes with a third penalty, but the hosts pulled away again when Mitchell went over following impressive work from No. 8 Steffon Armitage, capitalizing on a poor Leinster lineout.
Delon Armitage brought the crowd to its feet once again with a penalty from 55m out and while Jordi Murphy crashed over for a Leinster consolation try with 11 minutes remaining, Giteau added another penalty to ensure last season’s champions kept themselves in the hunt for a second title.