Toulon hold off Halfpenny-inspired Scarlets
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.
Tries: Escande, Guirado
Pens: Belleau 2, Trinh-Duc
Tries: McNicholl, Halfpenny
Cons: Halfpenny 2
Pens: Halfpenny 2
Yellow Cards: Tadhg Beirne (Scarlets); Hugo Bonneval (Toulon)
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)