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Edinburgh Rugby: 19 (10) Stade Toulousain: 14 (14)

At Murrayfield this afternoon, Edinburgh delivered what can only be described as an immense slap to their visitors from Toulouse to set up an historic first Heineken semi-final berth for a Scottish club, away in Dublin in a few weeks' time. All around the Murrayfield and Roseburn areas at around five o'clock, tearful gentlemen could be heard assuring their somewhat startled offspring that they had just witnessed one of the great Scottish rugby victories ever.

In front of 37, 881 souls, most of whom were urging on the home side, Murrayfield rocked in a way it has rarely rocked in recent memory. It may be almost 17 years since rugby union went open, but finally, Scotland may be waking up to what it means to have competitive professional clubs at provincial level, and the boost that can give the national side. As players leave Wales in their droves in search of better rewards elsewhere, the SRU is at long last investing in competitive playing budgets. On the evidence of this afternoon's display, coupled with Glasgow's excellent Rabo run, there is a solid foundation on which to build.

You may disagree, but the key factor in Scotland's Six Nations travails has been a lack of belief in the squad and a tendency to panic under pressure. There was none of that in evidence in Edinburgh's display today. From Mike Blair's early opening try to Greig Laidlaw's final penalty on no-side, belief oozed from every pore. They fronted up to the four time European champions and it was the visitors who were more often the ones panicked into the unforced error. Their rather graceless trooping up the tunnel immediately after full time spoke volumes. But no-one cared as the Edinburgh squad did a lap of honour for the ecstatic record crowd, featuring a guest appearance by the latest addition to the Blair dynasty.

As expected, Toulouse came after the Gunner scrummage, but Embra held firm, despite the odd rocky moment. Indeed, it was the French pack who were pinged most in the set-piece; rightly so given that loosehead Poux rarely bound on his man throughout, while the Gilchrist-Cox boilerhouse made a royal mess of the enemy lineout. Toulouse's offloading play was at times outstanding, but the much maligned Edinburgh defence held firm, apart from a wonder try from Matanavou.

The Heineken has brought the best out of Edinburgh this season, often in adversity. So often, understudies have stepped up to the plate when first choices have been injured and put in big time performances. It was a big call to leave Chris Paterson out of the squad, but Tom 'Schooldays' Brown, that exciting product of the world famous Law Primary rugby nursery, had another excellent outing. Meanwhile, Chris Leck came on for the injured Mike Blair at half time and played a blinder. Geological time may seem like a blur in comparison to the length of time it takes him to get the box kick away from the back of the ruck, but it's worth the wait - the heavy metal loving halfback's kicking game proved a highly effective weapon.

Statutory Matt Scott Tribute Paragraph: Another high quality performance from the second five-eighth. What gave most pleasure was not his work in open play, impressive though that was, but the amount of talking he did throughout. He is fast emerging as a real leader and if he is not Scotland's long term inside centre within the next year, well, I might join those who are not convinced that Andy Robinson is the right guy to take the national side forward.

But there were leaders all across the park this afternoon - Dave Denton's massive ball carrying, the defensive ferocity of Nick de Luca and Lee Jones, Tim Visser's oh-so-close cantering down the wing. You name it, they all did their club, their city and their country proud.

Things could not have started any better for Edinburgh. After Toulouse had knocked on the opening kick-off, Edinburgh rather rescued scrummage ball under presure. They put together a couple of phases close in then, with referee Owens playing advantage for Toulouse offside, Laidlaw launched a garryowen. It was guddled by the defence, Denton gathered and Blair rolled over for the try, goaled by Laidlaw. 7-0 up after only three minutes.

Toulouse were quickly on the board themselves, with Beauxis acing a long penalty after the restart. That set the scene for a pretty tight first quarter, with both sides settling into the match. Toulouse were playing a pretty limited game early on, the ball rarely making it beyond Beauxis. Edinburgh, by contrast, were looking to put some width on the ball.

Much to the Embra tifosi's displeasure, Jones was adjudged to have knocked a high ball on - incorrectly, as the TV replay clearly showed - setting up decent Toulouse field position. Edinburgh were penalised at the scrummage and Beauxis knocked over his second, taking the score to 7-6 at the end of the first quarter.

As the game opened up, Edinburgh were making some dangerous line breaks, but Visser and Rennie both ran out of support at crucial times.

Talking about crucial things, Owens then intervened with a crucial carding of Allan 'Chunk' Jacobsen on 25 minutes, seemingly for stopping Toulouse taking a quick tap penalty on the enemy 10 metre line. Yet in the second period, Toulouse's Australian scrum half Burgess did exactly the same, punting the ball away when a quick Edinburgh tap was on in almost precisely the same place. Maybe that it was on the opposite wing made all the difference. While justice was done with Beauxis missing the ensuing penalty, things got worse for the Embra men when Owens carded Rennie for a breakdown offence as Toulouse upped the pace a bit. Thirteen men against the four time champions was a big ask and one felt that Owens had quite possibly ruined the match as a spectacle. He had also painted himself into a corner, particularly as he had seemingly given Toulouse a warning previously for persistent infringements (indeed, they were pinged six times to Edinburgh's three in the first half).

After Beauxis had scored his third penalty, Matanavou returned a kick through heavy traffic and scored a fine solo try on 34 minutes, but Beauxis' missed conversion put Toulouse only 14-7 up. Those were to be their final points of the match.

Short-handed Edinburgh patiently built phases in the enemy 22, setting up a beautiful Laidlaw dropped goal on 37 minutes. Although they committed the cardinal sin of coughing up possession at the restart, massive defence in midfield kept the visitors at bay until the break. 14-10 Toulouse but Embra were entitled to feel slightly miffed to be behind.

After the Gunners snuffed out some early Toulouse pressure following the interval, a Rennie fly hack set up a dangerous attack. Owens had no option but to punish Servat's cynical offence with Edinburgh threatening with a yellow card and Laidlaw duly narrowed the gap to three with his second penalty.

Owens seemed a mite too indulgent of Toulouse's repeated time wasting at the scrummage during the power play, but Laidlaw notched his third penalty entering that generally crucial middle 20 minute spell in the second half. 16-14 Embra. Could they keep it going?

While Guy Noves emptied his bench, coach Bradley was, true to his usual form, sparing with the replacements used. But with Chunk, Ford and Cross putting in a huge effort against the gargantuan French pack, was there going to be enough gas left in the tank to see the Gunners home?

Chunk certainly had loads of fight left in him. The Man With The Film Star Looks was niggling away at the enemy front row, and the French handbags duly came out as Toulouse were again pinged at the scrum on 62 minutes. The Man From The Pans emerged with a knowing smile, his job well done.

The final quarter saw Edinburgh's pack take a hold of the match and throttle the life out of the illustrious Frenchmen. Indeed, the best attacking play was coming from the Embra men, both Jones and Visser coming close. As the match entered the last ten minutes, Edinburgh were playing the game in the enemy half and the pack were running the clock down with close-in drives. Toulouse had their moments, but the home scramble defence was up to the challenge.

With the crowd sensing that this was indeed to be a special day, the Edinburgh pack ground out the hard yards as the minutes ticked by. Eventually, the desperate Frenchmen infringed and Laidlaw lined up the penalty with 30 seconds on the clock. As the ball sailed through the posts to make the score 19-14 Edinburgh, Owens blew for no-side and joy was as unconfined as it is possible to be both on and off the park.

An outstanding performance by every one of them. They go to the Aviva in Dublin for their first ever semi final on Saturday 28th April. Whoever they play there, it will be a tough, tough task. But they have just beaten the most consistently excellent club in Heineken history. They need fear no-one and have nothing to lose.

I have booked my own travel to Twickers for the final. I think they can make it there.

MAN OF THE MATCH: The little general GREIG LAIDLAW's points with the boot and his all round confident display earned him a deserved award.


Edinburgh Rugby: Laidlaw 3P 1DG 1C, Blair 1T

Toulouse: Beauxis 3P, Matanavou 1T


Edinburgh Rugby: Tom Brown, Lee Jones, Nick De Luca, Matt Scott, Tim Visser, Greig Laidlaw (Capt.), Mike Blair (Sub: Leck 40), Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Grant Gilchrist, Sean Cox, David Denton, Ross Rennie (Sub, Grant 70), Netani(Sub: McInally, 70). Subs: Andrew Kelly, Kyle Traynor, Jack Gilding, Stuart McInally, Roddy Grant, Chris Leck, Phil Godman, Jim Thompson.

Toulouse: Yannick Jauzion, Timoci Matanavou, Florian Fritz, Yann David, Yves Donguy, Lionel Beauxis, Luke Burgess, Jean Baptise Poux, William Servat, Census Johnston, Yohan Maestri, Patricio Albacete, Jean Bouilhou, Thierry Dusautoir, (Capt.), Louis Picamoles. Subs: Christopher Tolofua, Dan Human, Yohan Montes, Gregory Lamboley, Jean-Marc Doussain, Clement Poitrenaud, Yannick Nyganga, Gilian Galan.

Referee: Owens (WRU)

Att: 37881 (UK record for a Heineken quarter final)