Rugby

Toulon hold off Halfpenny-inspired Scarlets

2017-10-15 19:38
Rugby ball (File)

Paris - Toulon survived a Leigh Halfpenny-led fightback from Scarlets to edge to a 21-20 opening European Champions Cup victory in southern France on Sunday.

They move level on four points in Pool 5 with Bath, who brushed aside Treviso 23-0 on Saturday.

The hosts raced into an 18-0 lead inside 23 minutes as Eric Escande and France captain Guilhem Guirado both crossed for tries and 21-year-old fly-half Anthony Belleau added eight points from the tee.

Former Toulon star Halfpenny turned the game around though, as he kicked the Welsh visitors' first points with a penalty before converting Johnny McNicholl's score.

The Wales full-back dived over himself just minutes later and added the extras to drag the Llanelli outfit to within a single point.

Halfpenny, who said he was "surprised" when Toulon told him he was no longer part of their plans earlier this year, continued his one-man show by slotting over another penalty to put Scarlets ahead after a run of 20 unanswered points.

But it ended in heartbreak and a one-point loss for the away team, as Francois Trinh-Duc added three points to edge Toulon back ahead, before Halfpenny himself narrowly missed a late penalty to win the match.

Three-time European champions Toulon next travel to Italy to take on perennial whipping boys Treviso, while Scarlets host Bath.

Earlier on Sunday, Castres battled to a 17-17 draw in Pool 4 with Munster.

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