Toulouse wizard Frederic Michalak was in brilliant form as he kicked the Saints out of Europe with a superb display at a packed Stade Municipal on Friday night.

Michalak scored the game’s opening try – a 70-metre intercept – kicked the penalties and constantly left the Saints defenders grasping at thin air with his trickery and sleight of hand.

Budge Pountney’s Northampton side are left to concentrate on Zurich Premiership survival after being out-classed in the Heineken Cup quarter-final by a Toulouse side desperate to win a third European title after the heartbreak of last season’s last-gasp loss to London Wasps.

Northampton lost backrower Andrew Blowers in only the eighth minute after the former All Black fell heavily in a lineout, and three errors in as many minutes from the visitors proved costly as they tried to turn the advantage of the wind into points.

Impressive fullback Bruce Reihana provided a spark when he ghosted through the Toulouse midfield, but the good work was ruined when outside-half Shane Drahm’s pass was intercepted by opposite number Michalak, who ran 70 metres for the game’s opening try. Jean-Baptiste Elissalde’s sideline conversion simply twisted the knife.

Drahm banged over a penalty goal from in front, but Toulouse winger Cedric Heymans stepped past Marc Stcherbina and another fine conversion from Elissalde gave the home side a comfortable 14-3 lead after half an hour.

Drahm pegged back three points with another goal, and the Saints were in touch at 14-6 down at halftime, although fans from both sides knew the floodgates were in danger of opening in the second spell.

Michalak took the game by the scruff of the neck after the break, kicking a dropped goal and long-range penalty goal to give the hot favourites plenty of breathing space.

Northampton’s night went from bad to hopeless when replacement backrower Mark Soden was sin-binned for bringing down a rolling maul, and Toulouse winger Vincent Clerc took advantage of the one-man advantage to dot down in the corner.

Injuries to Saints props Tom Smith and Robbie Morris resulted in uncontested scrums, which dampened the speed of the game, but a quick throw-in gave Toulouse replacement Christian Labit plenty of space to power his way over the line for his side’s fourth try.