Toulon extended their unbeaten start to the Top 14 season to six games on Saturday with a comfortable 33-12 win over Castres.
Toulon extended their unbeaten start to the Top 14 season to six games on Saturday with a comfortable 33-12 win over Castres at Stade Felix Mayol.
The hosts outscored Castres three tries to none to secure a bonus point and top spot in the standings for at least another week.
The result also means that Toulon equal the record set by Stade FranÃ§ais for consecutive wins at the start of a season.
Jonny Wilkinson kicked 18 points including a drop-goal with another faultless kicking display.
Matt Giteau got the ball rolling for Toulon – who led 17-12 at half time – intercepting and sprinting 40 metres for the opening try after Wilkinson had landed an early penalty.
The visitors got themselves off the mark shortly before the 20 minute mark through a superb long-range penalty by South African scrum-half Rory Kockott after France centre Maxime Mermoz went offside.
They reduced the gap further soon after when Toulon's English full-back Delon Armitage was penalised for a high tackle and Kockott made no mistake while the referee gave the Toulon players a lecture about their high penalty count.
Fred Michalak – who started at scrum-half for the first time inside Wilkinson – was the star of the show and left the field to a standing ovation in the closing minutes having set up hooker Jean-Charles Orioli for RCT's second try just before the interval.
Michalak slipped a pass to Orioli 22 metres out and he broke three tackles to touch down. Wilkinson added the conversion to make it 17-6.
Castres, though, wouldn't give up and two more penalties by Kockott kept them in touch. The South African ruined his perfect record however as a penalty – again the fault of Armitage – hit the post.
Wilkinson made it 20-12 early in the second-half as he dropped a goal in front of the posts after being set up by Michalak and stretched the lead further in the 53rd minute with a penalty.
Five minutes later the Englishman added another penalty to leave Castres requiring two converted tries to get their noses in front.
However, it was Toulon who got a try as Wilkinson fed Mermoz who passed to David Smith and he broke through the Castres centres to touch down under the posts seven minutes from full-time.
Wilkinson converted and the home defence held on to shut Castres out and secure the try bonus-point.
Tries: Giteau, Orioli, Smith
Cons: Wilkinson 3
Pens: Wilkinson 3
Pens: Kockott 4
Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Vincent Martin, 13 Maxime Mermoz, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Frederic Michalak, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Pierrick Gunther, 5 Jocelino Suta, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Jean Charles Orioli, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Mickael Ivaldi, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Nick Kennedy, 19 Joe van Niekerk, 20 Mathieu Bastareaud, 21 David Smith, 22 Nicolas Durand, 23 Xavier Chiocci.
Castres: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Romain Martial, 13 Romain Cabannes, 12 Seremaia Bai, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Remi Tales, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Iosefa Tekori, 7 Pedrie Wannenburg, 6 Piula Faasalele, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Brice Mach, 1 Saimone Taumoepeau.
Replacements: 16 Mathieu Bonello, 17 Yannick Forestier, 18 Benjamin Desroche, 19 Jan de bruin Bornman, 20 Thierry Lacrampe, 21 Pierre Bernard, 22 Paul Bonnefond, 23 Michael Coetzee.
Referee: Patrick PÃ©chambert