Toulon bounce back to crush Clermont

2015-11-29 08:58
Matt Giteau (Gallo Images)

Paris - European champions Toulon emphatically demonstrated that rumours of their demise had been exaggerated as they thumped Top 14 leaders Clermont 35-9 on Saturday.

Toulon came into the match on the back of a stuttering start to the season in which they started the day in the bottom half of the table, while they had begun the defence of their European crown last weekend with a chastening 32-6 thrashing at Wasps.

But with Australian World Cup finalists Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell and fellow Wallaby James O'Connor in the starting line-up, Toulon inflicted a rare home defeat on a strangely subdued Clermont.

Toulon even managed an attacking bonus point to move up to third, just two points behind Clermont.

The visitors turned on the style in the first 40 minutes, scoring tries through Delon Armitage and scrumhalf Eric Escande.

Brilliant handling between second row Samu Manoa and centre Mathieu Bastareaud set up Armitage to run in from the left on 16 minutes, replying to Morgan Parra's early penalty for the hosts.

Parra and Armitage exchanged penalties before the European champions struck again.

The second try came on 36 minutes as Escande took the ball from the back of a maul and attacked down the blindside, chipping ahead for wing Mitchell to collect and pass back inside for the half-back to scamper over.

He missed the conversion, however, while Armitage was well wide with a long-range penalty attempt as Toulon went in at the break with a 15-6 lead that didn't tell the full story of their domination.

But two more Escande penalties after Parra had landed his third extended the lead before Clermont's replacement flanker Julien Bardy was sin-binned for coming in at the side with Toulon attacking the line.

Toulon kicked to touch and as they tried to drive over a rolling maul, Clermont infringed and referee Mathieu Raynal ran under the posts to award a penalty try.

And after the final hooter, replacement Steffon Armitage stole breakdown ball and sent Mitchell running in from long range to net the fourth try under the posts, adding insult to injury.


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