Toulon hold off Halfpenny-inspired Scarlets

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 17:21
Large toulon v scarlets 2017 800

CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: 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 Five 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 flyhalf 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 fullback 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 Four with Munster.

The scorers:

For Toulon:
Tries: Escande, Guirado
Con: Belleau
Pens: Belleau 2, Trinh-Duc

For Scarlets:
Tries: McNicholl, Halfpenny
Cons: Halfpenny 2
Pens: Halfpenny 2

Yellow Cards: Tadhg Beirne (Scarlets); Hugo Bonneval (Toulon)

Teams:

Toulon: 15 Hugo Bonneval, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Chris Ashton, 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Eric Escande, 8 Raphael Lakafia, 7 Facundo Isa, 6 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Mamuka Gorgodze, 4 Swan Rebbadj, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Florian Fresia
Replacements: 16 Anthony Etrillard, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Levan Chilachava, 19 Rudy Gahetau, 20 Semi Radradra, 21 Francois Trinh-Duc, 22 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 23 Juandre Kruger

Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Tadhg Beirne, 7 Will Boyde, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 David Bulbring, 20 Joshua Macleod, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Paul Asquith, 23 Hadleigh Parkes

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace (England), Nigel Carrick (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

Agence France-Presse

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EUROPEAN CUP
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Pool 1
Team P W D L Pts
La Rochelle 2 2 0 0 10
Wasps 2 1 0 1 5
Ulster 2 1 0 1 4
Harlequins 2 0 0 2 1
Pool 2
Team P W D L Pts
Saracens 2 2 0 0 10
Clermont Auvergne 2 2 0 0 9
Ospreys 2 0 0 2 3
Northampton Saints 2 0 0 2 0
Pool 3
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 2 2 0 0 10
Exeter Chiefs 2 2 0 0 8
Montpellier 2 0 0 2 3
Glasgow Warriors 2 0 0 2 0
Pool 4
Team P W D L Pts
Leicester Tigers 2 1 0 1 6
Munster 2 1 1 0 6
Racing Metro 2 1 0 1 5
Castres 2 0 1 1 3
Pool 5
Team P W D L Pts
Bath 2 2 0 0 8
Toulon 2 2 0 0 8
Scarlets 2 0 0 2 2
Treviso 2 0 0 2 1