Home European Champions Cup Toulon hold of Bath

Toulon hold of Bath

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Toulon moved three points clear at the top of Pool Five after they claimed a hard-fought 24-20 victory against Bath at Stade Mayol on Saturday.

As the scoreline suggests, this result could have gone either way although Toulon deserve credit for the way they fought back in the second half after Bath had the better of the early exchanges.

Toulon eventually outscored the Premiership side by three tries to two with a 76th minute five-pointer from Anthony Belleau proving to be the match-winning score in the end.

The visitors were fastest out of the blocks and after Rhys Priestland put them in front courtesy of a penalty in the 13th minute, they silenced the Stade Mayol faithful thanks to a fine try from Anthony Watson.

Aled Brew deserves plenty of credit as he did well with a barnstorming run down the left-hand touchline before shrugging off a tackle from Josua Tuisova. Brew was hauled in by Chris Ashton deep inside Toulon’s 22 but managed to free his arms and offloaded to Watson, who had an easy run-in for the opening try.

Priestland added the extras which meant Bath led 10-0 but Toulon struck back in the 34th minute when Ma’a Nonu rounded off a superb team effort which was initiated by Semi Radradra. The ball went through several pairs of hands before Nonu found himself in the clear and he cantered in for a deserved try which Francois Trinh-Duc converted.

On the stroke of half-time, Toulon were blown up for illegal scrummaging and Priestland slotted the resulting penalty which meant the visitors held a 13-7 lead as the teams changed sides at the interval.

10 minutes into the second half, Bath were reduced to 14 men when Chris Cook was sent to the sin bin for a cynical defensive indiscretion close to his try-line.

Shortly afterwards, Alby Mathewson gathered from the back of a scrum on Bath’s five-metre line before barging over for his side’s second try.

Trinh-Duc converted which gave Toulon the lead for the first time but on the hour-mark Bath regained the lead in bizarre fashion. This, after Tuisova took a quick throw-in at a lineout close to his try-line. Ashton gathered behind his posts and attempted a clearance kick which sliced off his boot and didn’t come close to going into touch. This meant that Jonathan Joseph gathered close to the touchline before crossing the whitewash for an easy try.

Priestland converted and with the score at 20-14 in their favour, Bath were on course for a deserved triumph. But Toulon fought back via a penalty from Trinh-Duc in the 66th minute which set up a thrilling finish.

And 10 minutes later, replacement fly-half Belleau caught Bath’s defence by surprise when he stabbed a grubber kick through deep inside his opponents’ 22 before regathering and dotting down.

That meant Toulon led 22-20 but Belleau sealed the win when he slotted the resulting conversion, with Toulon repelling Bath late on.

The scorers:

For Toulon:
Tries:
 Nonu, Mathewson, Belleau
Cons: Trinh-Duc 2, Belleau
Pen: Trinh-Duc

For Bath:
Tries: 
Watson, Joseph
Cons: Priestland 2
Pens: Priestland 2
Yellow Card: Cook

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