Laporte urges Toulon to kick on
Sun, 08 Dec 2013 08:28
I'm happy with the spirit of my team
Toulon boss Bernard Laporte has urged his side to use their away win over Exeter as a springboard as they look to defend their European Cup title.
Florian Fresia's early try was the difference between the sides in a physical encounter at Sandy Park on Saturday, and now Toulon lead Cardiff Blues by one point at the top of the table at the halfway mark of this season's group stages.
But coach Laporte, who led Toulon to a first European Cup crown last term, claims qualification has not been secured after the defending champions bounced back from a shock defeat to the Blues in Round Two.
"It was a difficult match and Exeter played well. It's important in the European Cup to win one of your away games, but the pool is not finished," said Laporte.
"We made a good step, but the competition is not over, it's only just beginning."
Toulon suffered a series of injuries in the first half in Devon, with South African duo Bakkies Botha and Bryan Habana forced off the field. Giant lock Botha suffered a head injury while wing Habana looked to have pulled his hamstring.
But Laporte was delighted with the response of his squad and highlighted the performances of his young guns as Toulon recovered from a 9-8 half-time deficit to run out 14-9 winners over an Exeter outfit who previously led the pool.
"I'm happy with the spirit of my team. When people speak about Toulon, they speak about Ali Williams, Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Giteau, but Toulon is also about the young players," added Laporte.
"Fresia is 20, (Xavier) Chiocci is 22, (Jean Charles) Oriloi is 23 and (Virgile) Bruni is 23 and I'm happy with those players because it's the first time a lot of them have played in Europe.
"We have a lot of injuries and now we have more, but this is rugby. I'm happy with their performances."
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