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Williams proud of Toulon’s fighting spirit

Toulon lock Ali Williams hailed his side’s ruthless will-to-win after they claimed their third successive European title with Champions Cup victory over Clermont.

The match was a repeat of the 2013 European final in Dublin where Toulon also came away with the trophy after a 16-15 victory.

Drew Mitchell scored the decisive try after Nick Abendanon had given Clermont hope but it was not to be The Massif Central club who must endure their second European heartbreak in three years.

And Williams admits Toulon gave everything for the win in their complete refusal to accept defeat at Twickenham.

“That was incredible,” he said after the match. “I just can’t believe the courage we showed.

“We haven’t been together that long, just two or three years but it’s come together and you’ve got so much respect for each other, you don’t want to let each other down.

“We probably haven’t played the most attractive rugby all season but it’s one of those things deep inside you that you just know how to win and that came through.

“It’s just that desire to win and not let the opposition get that extra inch over you and that was pretty special.

“I’ve had an amazing career and I’ve just got to thank everyone – when you know you haven’t got to do it very often any more then you give it everything.”

It was an uncertain first quarter for the defending champions with Wesley Fofana scoring the first try of the final for Clermont but three Leigh Halfpenny penalties and a conversion after Mathieu Bastareaud went over gave Toulon a half-time lead.

A brilliant solo try by Abendanon gave Clermont hope but Mitchell put the game out of reach for Toulon.

After the match a distraught Abendanon reflected on the disappointment of coming so far only to experience another defeat at the hands of their French rivals.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow,” he admitted.

“These guys have worked so hard throughout the year to get this point and unfortunately have come up just a bit short.

“I don’t think there’s words but there’s a lot of tears in the changing room, there’s a group of players that have been at the club for a lot longer than I have so it’s hard to put that sort of emotion into words.

“The sort of player I am is I like to try things and some of them might not come off but you can be sure I’ll keep my head up and make sure I try them again because I back my skills.

“At the end of the day we scored that try and got back into the game and it wasn’t until the final whistle that we thought we were out of it.”
 
Clermont Auvergne: Abendanon; Nakaitaci (Delany 67), Davies, Fofana, Nalaga (Rougerie 54); Lopez, Parra (Radosavljevic 56), Debaty (Domingo 47), Kayser (Ulugia 63), Zirakashvili (Ric 66), Cudmore, Vahaamahina (Pierre 67), Bonnaire, Chouly, Lee (Bardy 54).
 
Toulon: Halfpenny; Mitchell, Bastareaud, J Hernandez (Wulf 66), Habana; Giteau, Tillous-Borde; Chiocci (Menini 48), Guirado (Orioli 63), Hayman (Chilachava 63), Botha (Taofifenua 47), Williams, J Smith (Fernandez Lobbe58), S Armitage, Masoe.
 
Replacements not Used: Bruni, Michalak.
 
Scorers
 
Clermont Auvergne
Tries: Fofana, Abendanon
Conversions: Lopez
Penalties: Lopez 2
 
Toulon
Tries: Bastareaud, Mitchell
Conversions: Halfpenny
Penalties: Halfpenny 4
 
Referee: Nigel Owens
Attendance: 56,662
 

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