Challenge Cup: Lyon qualified for their first European final after their stunning victory against Wasps

Lyon has written a beautiful page in its history. Nothing was easy for the Rhôdaniens, however, qualified for the Challenge Cup final, the first final in their history, after their victory against Wasps (20-18), Saturday May 14. The ears of anyone other than Pierre Mignoni would surely have smoked very loudly after such a frustrating first half. At the break, the serenity displayed by the Lyon manager contrasted with the performance of his team, punctuated by clumsiness and avoidable faults. Force of habit, no doubt. His players proved him right. It took them less than ten minutes to take control of the match before winning the semi-finals.

Thanks to this success, the Lyonnais, who were novices at this stage of the competition, offered themselves a European final in Marseille on May 27. They will find the winner of the duel between former European rugby leaders Toulon-Saracens who will fight at 9 p.m. this Saturday (meeting to follow on France 4).

The Lyonnais give the impression of a reactionary team, capable of revealing all their talent once they hit the wall. An attitude comparable to that of other French clubs this season (Toulouse, Racing 92). “Maybe we need to be scared”, slid the rear of the Lou, Toby Arnold in the week. An observation that his manager drew, in the columns of the Team, on Saturday. “They are a team that from time to time go out of the way in terms of strategy and discipline and can put themselves in danger on their own.”

On the artificial turf of the Matmut Stadium in Gerland, under a blazing sun, which quickly pushed the players to hydrate after some playing time, Pierre Mignoni’s men first stammered their rugby. Despite the intentions, the speed, the breakthroughs of Léo Berdeu, Baptiste Couilloud, Joel Kpoku or even Pierre Louis Barassi, a kick that was too long, an ill-adjusted pass or a penalty conceded (6 in the first period) prevented them from materializing. Solidarity in defense, with Josua Tuisova author of a double attacking tackle on his wing, the Lyonnais ended up being surprised around a ruck by Robson (24th, 5-0).

The English still remained within reach at the break (3-8). After having sometimes rushed a little, like his team, the opener of Lou, Léo Berdeu, found the fault. At the start of a touch played quickly in his camp, he went up the ball, helped by several relays in a dumbfounded defense before spinning in the in-goal and transforming his try to return to height (8-8, 47th) .

A few minutes later, it was the turn of Yanis Charcosset to score in force to validate the work of the Lyon forwards (17-11, 54th). A sequence perfectly led by Jean Marc Doussain, who had just entered the fray. The former French international (31 years old, 17 caps) used all his experience to manage the end of the match, taking the time to breathe his teammates, to alternate at the foot so as not to take the risk of being punished in his camp, and thus prevent the Lou from falling back into his ways.

“It passed for the semi-final, but it will not pass for a final. We have to go into more detail”warned Pierre Mignoni at the end of the meeting.

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