Toulon make most of extra man
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Toulon made the most of the fifth minute sin-binning of Magnus Lund to plunder 15 points that ultimately earned them a gritty 15-5 win over Sale Sharks.
Lund saw yellow for a no-arms, late tackle on opposite number Juan Martin Fernandez-Lobbe and no sooner had he departed than Leigh Halfpenny struck the first points with a penalty.
Three minutes later back row Charles Ollivon blasted through the short-handed home defence for the opening try.
Halfpenny had no problem with the conversion and then the Wales and British & Irish Lions fullback ran in a second try. This time it was a cross-kick from Francois Trinh-Duc that set-up the try as Byron McGuighan found himself faced with three Toulon players.
Halfpenny couldn't add the touchline conversion from the left and went on to miss a 44-metre penalty in the second half, but the three-time champions had got off to the kind of start new head coach Mike Ford had asked for following the poor opening in the Round One defeat at home against Saracens.
But Toulon weren't able to build on their fast start and instead it was the courageous home side that came rushing back into the contest.
No sooner had Toulon skipper Duane Vermeulen been sent to the sin-bin for a cynical trip in open play than wing Paulo Odogwu ran in his first Champions Cup try to cut the gap to 10 points.
That's how it stayed up to the break and throughout the whole of the second half. As well as Halfpenny's long-range miss, Will Addison was also off target for Sale with a kickable penalty.
The win for Toulon keeps them in the mix in Pool Three with back-to-back games against the Scarlets to come in December.
Two successive defeats for Sale will make it difficult for them to progress, especially with successive games against reigning champions Saracens to come.
Sale scrumhalf Peter Stringer made his 101st appearance in the European Cup at the end of a day in which he had attended the funeral of his former Munster and Ireland teammate Anthony Foley. There was a minute's silence in memory of Foley before the kick-off.
For Sale Sharks:
Yellow cards: Magnus Lund (Sale Sharks, 4), Duane Vermeulen (Toulon, 22)
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 Will Addison, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Paolo Odogwu, 10 Sam James, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Josh Beaumont (captain), 7 Magnus Lund, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 17 Halani Aulika, 18 Jonathan Mills, 19 David Seymour, 20 Tom Curry, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Dan Mugford, 23 Sam Bedlow.
Toulon: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 James O'Connor, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Eric Escande, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 6 Charles Ollivon, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Mamuka Gorgodze, 3 Levan Chilachava, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Xavier Chiocci.
Replacements: 16 Anthony Etrillard, 17 Laurent Delboulbès, 18 Marcel Van Der Merwe, 19 Samu Manoa, 20 Matt Carraro, 21 Pierre Bernard, 22 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 23 Jocelino Suta.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Chris Williams (Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)