Juan Smith stars in Toulon victory

2015-12-20 07:22
Juan Smith (Gallo Images)

Paris - Titleholders Toulon overhauled an 11-point interval deficit to power past Leinster 20-16 and knock the three-time winners out of the European Champions Cup on Saturday.

After three straight defeats in Pool 5 the Irish province were as good as gone, and their French visitors sealed their fate at the Aviva Stadium.

The Top 14 giants came good thanks to a penalty try, and a maul effort from replacement hooker Anthony Etrillard converted by Tom Taylor who added a 73rd minute penalty.

Leinster were on top in the first half with Jonathan Sexton converting a 17th-minute penalty try and adding three penalties, only for the hosts to succumb to Toulon's dominance in the closing 40 minutes.

"That was a big comeback by us in the second half, especially after we lost at Wasps," said Toulon's man-of-the-match and first half try scorer Juan Smith.

He added: "At half-time we just said we needed to stick to our game plan and put faith in our set-piece. The scrum and line-out were non-negotiable for us.

"We always back our driving line-out and we got a try from it last week, which was our only highlight. But we got another try from it this time."

The precious win in Dublin put Toulon back in the hunt for the quarter-finals, eight points behind Wasps, who beat Bath 36-10, in second place with a game in hand.

"It isn't getting any easier. It was a disappointing defeat against Wasps, but it can only get better from here on," said Smith.

In Pool 2 Bordeaux-Begles held on to claim a 33-27 home win in an eight-try thriller over the Ospreys.

Bordeaux stunned Ospreys with three first half tries and secure a bonus point after the break only for the Welsh region to produce a stirring fightback and claim a losing bonus point and a try bonus point.

Ospreys lead the pool on 12 points with Bordeaux third on six. Second-placed Exeter are in action on Sunday at Clermont.

Earlier, Saracens continued their perfect start to the season with a dominant eight-try rout of overmatched French outfit Oyonnax.

England international wing Chris Ashton scored a hat-trick and Fiji-born Italy No.8 Samuela Vunisa added a brace with Alex Goode, Mike Ellery and Jamie George also crossing the whitewash.

The 55-13 victory, a tenth out of 10 matches this season, stretched Sarries' Pool 1 lead to 14 points ahead of Ulster's trip to Toulouse on Sunday.

And it came a week after a six-try 45-10 win at Oyonnax a week ago.

Debutants Oyonnax are now sure to miss out on the knock-out rounds after a third defeat in a row in the competition.

They did, however, get a second-half interception try from Fetu'u Vainikolo.

Stade Francais kept the pressure up on Pool 4 leaders Leicester with a 40-14 bonus point win over Treviso.

Fijian wing Josaia Raisuqe scored two of the six tries and fly-half Morne Steyn kicked five of six conversions.

On Friday night, New Zealand legend Dan Carter kicked three penalties as Racing 92 drew 9-9 at Northampton Saints, for whom Stephen Myler also had three successful kicks at goal.

That left unbeaten Racing two points ahead of Saints in Pool 3, but also with a game in hand.

Sunday sees Toulouse host Ulster and Exeter at Clermont.


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