Rugby

'PlayStation backs, Atari forwards', says Toulon boss after loss

2017-11-05 12:34
Mourad Boudjellal (Getty Images)

Paris - Flamboyant Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal on Saturday likened his flying backs to the cutting edge of 21st century PlayStation technology but claimed his forwards were struggling to master 1980's Atari games.

Boudjellal summoned up his colourful metaphor after seeing his expensively-assembled three-time European champions crash to an embarrassing 26-24 defeat at relegation-haunted Agen in the Top 14 despite running in four tries.

"In the backs, four tries, it's a PlayStation team," said the club president Boudjellal.

"But up front, it's still a little like an Atari game. It's not yet developed, the Atari and the PS4, they don't go together. I'm not afraid to say it."

England winger Chris Ashton scored a stunning hat-trick of tries while a score from veteran All Blacks centre Ma'a Nonu in the corner appeared to put Toulon on course for a hard-earned win at a wet and chilly Stade Armandie.

But three minutes from time, Hugo Verdu, who had only been on the pitch for two minutes, knocked over Agen's fourth penalty to seal a dramatic win.

Agen, who had started the day second from bottom, led 20-19 at the interval with two tries in the space of seven minutes from lock forward Denis Marchois and New Zealand centre George Tilsley.

Ashton scored two of his tries either side of them with Luke McAlister adding the extras.

Toulon then edged ahead at 24-23 after the interval with Ashton completing his hat-trick in the 67th minute.

In a tense finale, young Australian fly-half Jake McIntyre, who had already kicked two conversions and three penalties, saw a penalty come back agonisingly off the post.

But 21-year-old replacement centre Verdu then showed nerves of steel to bury the match-winning penalty in the 77th minute as Agen clinched just their second win of the campaign.

Leaders Lyon slumped to a first home defeat this season when title rivals La Rochelle clinched a rain-swept battle of attrition 19-15.

Missing 11 players, including star fly-half and kicker Lionel Beauxis as well as skipper and backrow stalwart Julien Puricelli, Lyon struggled to impose any sort of authority at the Stade Gerland.

Veteran fly-half Frederic Michalak kicked all of their points while La Rochelle, playing without four first-choice stars away on international duty, grabbed the only try from scrum-half Alexis Bales in the 53rd minute.

Despite the defeat, Lyon collected a losing bonus point and remain three points ahead of La Rochelle and five in front of Montpellier, who host Clermont on Sunday.

Pau coach Simon Mannix blasted highly-rated referee Romain Poite after his team lost 23-20 at Racing 92, going down to a 78th-minute converted try when they had two players in the sin-bin.

Pau, leading 20-18, had to play the last five minutes with just 13 men after All Blacks winger Conrad Smith and full-back Charlie Malie were both yellow-carded.

The visitors gamely defended but their desperate resistance was finally breached when replacement centre Marc Andreu grabbed Racing's second try of the game.

"Romain Poite is a great referee at international level, but tonight I do not understand his decisions," said Mannix.

"I'm going to calm down, but if our two yellow cards were deserved, he did not give decisions in our favour. That's expensive and that pisses me off.

"But I'm proud of my guys, they gave everything."

Tongan winger Frank Halai scored Pau's only try with All Blacks fly-half Colin Slade booting 15 points.

Toulouse held on for a topsy-turvy 38-37 victory over Bordeaux-Begles as teenager Matthieu Jalibert missed a long-range penalty after the final buzzer in a game which featured nine tries.

Read more on:    toulon  |  mourad boudjellal  |  rugby
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