Rugby

Toulon chokes Warriors to win

2014-01-18 20:25
Jonny Wilkinson (Gallo Images)

Scotstoun - Reigning Heineken Cup champions Toulon ground down Glasgow Warriors to triumph 15-8 at a rain-soaked on Saturday.

The reigning champions arrived in Scotland with their place in the next round already secure, while the hosts were seeking to end a European campaign that failed to live up to expectations on a high.

The Warriors' chief criticism over the past two seasons, where they have made the PRO12 play-offs, has been their failure to replicate domestic form on the continental stage. This year has been no different; two disappointing losses to Cardiff Blues putting paid to their quarterfinal target.

The weather conditions in the west of Scotland did not bode well for free-flowing rugby; with soggy Scotstoun a far cry from the French Riviera Toulon call home. It was the champions who favoured a forward-oriented game, though, as Glasgow persisted with the offloading gameplay that characterises their PRO12 style.

As one might expect from an eight that included the likes of Steffon Armitage, Carl Hayman and Juan Smith, the visitors' pack looked typically powerful going forward, but the Warriors' defence remained solid; head coach Gregor Townsend's main area of concern his side's refusal to deviate from that offloading rugby, costing them possession when ambitious passes failed to go to hand.

Jonny Wilkinson was given a predictably warm welcome by the home crowd, as he missed an early penalty; but it was one of the fans' favourites, Stuart Hogg, who lit up proceedings with a searing break downfield, and what have been a scoring pass to Niko Matawalu went behind the Fijian, who juggled awkwardly before he was reined in by Drew Mitchell.

Wilkinson opened the scoring with a three-pointer just shy of the half-hour mark, but it was cancelled out minutes later by opposite number Ruaridh Jackson following a dancing midfield run and offload from Hogg.

It was the full-back's booming punt that led to Wilkinson's second penalty, however, his kick bobbling over the dead ball line, and Toulon drawing an infringement at the resultant scrum.

The second half began in similar fashion, as the holders' pack marched Glasgow back on their own 22, winning another scrum penalty, and a simple three points for Wilkinson.

And it proved to be something of a recurring theme, Wilkinson slotting his fourth on 52 minutes from a further set-piece transgression, with home tighthead Moray Low buckling under the pressure of the gargantuan Andrew Sheridan.

Referee JP Doyle reduced Toulon to 14 men soon after, as scrum-half Sebastien Tillous-Borde took out Sean Maitland after the winger's chip ahead. But extrovert Matawalu rightly joined him less than two minutes later, deliberately batting forward an offload from charging hooker Craig Burden.

From that penalty, Wilkinson extended his side's lead to twelve points, as Toulon continued to suffocate Glasgow through dominance in the tight and powerful ball-carrying in the loose.

But the hosts exerted great pressure on the French outfit's line; first through a driving maul that looked to be halted illegally as it trampled forwards, then in charging down Wilkinson's attempted clearance.

They got their reward in bizarre fashion, a scrappy series of play in the in-goal area seeing lively openside Chris Fusaro dive over a ruck to ground the unprotected ball. Substitute Duncan Weir's conversion slipped wide, however, leaving Glasgow a seven-point gap to bridge.

With fifteen minutes left on the clock, Scotland international Richie Vernon emerged from the bench for his first professional appearance since switching from the back-row to centre; replacing Matawalu on the wing.

And after Wilkinson missed a chance to put Toulon more than a converted score ahead, Vernon, sporting a more svelte physique, made his mark out wide; Ryan Wilson sending him scampering fifty metres up the touchline, igniting the home crowd.

From that run, Glasgow pummelled the champions' line; Weir kicking a penalty to the corner following over twenty phases of play. But huge credit must go to the Toulon rearguard, halting what appeared to be a twelve-man driving maul from the hosts, and repelling repeated carries from the Warriors' pack.

The win was a hallmark of the pragmatism and ballast of Toulon under boss Bernard Laporte, and it ensured the visitors a quarterfinal at their Stade Felix-Mayol stronghold; an ominous proposition for whomever must make that trip.

SCORERS:

GLASGOW: Try: Fusaro, Pen: Jackson, Yellow Card: Matawalu

TOULON: Pens: Wilkinson 5, Yellow Card: Tillous-Borde

HEINEKEN CUP RESULTS:

Cardiff (WAL) 13 Exeter (ENG) 19
Glasgow (SCO) 8 Toulon (FRA) 15
Saracens (ENG) 64 Connacht (IRL) 6
Zebre (ITA) 6 Toulouse (FRA) 16
Leicester (ENG) 19 Ulster (IRL) 22
Montpellier (FRA) 24 Treviso (ITA) 6

Read more on:    cardiff blues  |  toulon  |  heineken cup  |  rugby
NEXT ON SPORT24X

WP unveil Currie Cup squad

2014-08-01 17:00

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
13 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
  • SS3
    Fri, 01 Aug 2014 @
    04:00
  • SS4
    Fri, 01 Aug 2014 @
    05:00
  • SS5
    Fri, 01 Aug 2014 @
    05:59
  • SS7
    Fri, 01 Aug 2014 @
    06:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 
 
Featured Blog

Dave ask if you would like to meet your local sports heroes and stand the chance to win prizes to the value of over R40 000.

Latest blogs
Vote

We're down to four teams left in contention for the 2014 Super Rugby title. Who will be crowned champions?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

TV schedule Plan your couch time with our searchable sport TV guide

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.