RC Toulonnais continued their run toward a third consecutive European title after surviving a late scare to beat Wasps RFC 32-18 and advance to the last four of the Champions Cup on Sunday.
Last year’s runners-up Saracens FC earlier sealed a dramatic 12-11 win at Racing Metro 92 to reach the other semi-final in St Etienne against Clermont Auvergne.
Toulon flyhalf Frederic Michalak kicked six penalties out of six and two conversions, while the French side scored two tries through Mathieu Bastareaud and Ali Williams to set up a semi-final in Marseille against Ireland’s Leinster, 18-15 victors over Bath on Saturday.
England’s Wasps also scored two tries through William Helu with Alex Lozowski and Andy Goode kicking the rest of the points.
“We’ve got the squad to go all the way,” man of the match Michalak told beIN Sport.
At their Stade Mayol, Toulon made a perfect start when powerful France center Bastareaud ran on to Michalak’s pass and scored under the posts.
Michalak added the extras and slotted home five penalties to put the hosts 22-6 up at halftime after Lozowski had kept his side afloat with two penalties.
Toulon, who squandered an 18-0 lead before losing to Toulouse in the French Top 14 last weekend, got nervous when Helu touched down after benefiting from poor defending by Josua Tuisova.
Bernard Laporte’s side let their guard down again, allowing Helu to dive over after the ball was played wide. The stage was set for a tense finale, but Williams put the result beyond doubt with a late try.
Earlier, Argentine center Marcelo Bosch kicked a last-gasp penalty to send English side Saracens into the last four.
Bosch kept his composure to slot over a 43m kick after the clock had ticked past 80 minutes. Racing were trying to see out time while in possession, but Fabrice Metz was penalized for going off his feet in a ruck.
Saracens are to travel to France again to play Clermont after the Top 14 side dismantled Northampton 37-5 on Saturday.
“I told him [Metz] many times to keep his feet on the ground,” said Racing scrumhalf Maxime Machenaud, who scored all his team’s points with a try and two penalties.
Charlie Hodgson kicked an early penalty after Racing were penalized in the scrum.
Saracens were reduced to 14 men when Jim Hamilton received a yellow card for collapsing a maul near his try line and Racing quickly benefited with Machenaud diving over after the pack had come close following a lineout.
Hodgson missed two penalties in quick succession before finding his range again early in the second half to put his side ahead.
Racing were penalized for going off their feet at the ruck and fullback Alex Goode stretched the visitors’ lead to four points.
Machenaud put his side ahead with a couple of penalties, but another lack of discipline cost Racing dear in the end.
“We weren’t great in the first half, even though we had a very strong wind behind us,” Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said.
“But that’s where it turned around and I’d say our second-half performance was as courageous, brave and hard-working as I’ve seen,” McCall said.
“We went hunting and kept knocking them down and scrapped for absolutely everything,” he added.
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Three new COVID-19 cases yesterday hit the Australian Open’s troubled buildup as a backlash grew against international tennis players flown in during a raging pandemic. Two of the new cases were players, state health officials said, taking the total infections to seven since more than 1,000 people arrived in largely COVID-19-free Australia on charter flights last week. The Victoria Department of Health and Human Services said that the two players and a third person associated with the tournament — a woman in her 20s, and two men in their 30s — had returned positive results. The year’s first Grand Slam, delayed three weeks,