La Rochelle edge Toulon at the death

Date published: April 25 2015

A last-minute try saw La Rochelle claim an upset win over French champions Toulon, winning 32-29 in Saturday's Top 14 clash at Stade Marcel Deflandre.

The result pulls La Rochelle back into the running for a play-off spot and almost ensures their place in the top flight for next term while Toulon's bonus point leaves them four points ahead of Clermont – who face Castres later on Saturday – at the top of the standings.

In a dramatic finish, Frédéric Michalak's fifth penalty of the afternoon put Toulon into the lead in the 69th minute but the hosts snatched victory at the death as Australian centre Malietoa Hingano crossed for the winner.

A week ahead of their European Champions Cup Final, a much-changed Toulon side saw Michalak given a chance to make amends for his poor performance in last week's semi-final, and the French international playmaker was excellent.

Toulon will rue the yellow card handed to Mamuka Gorgodze two minutes from full time for an umpteenth cynical penalty as they were forced to defend their line in the closing stages. La Rochelle went for the line-out from the ensuing penalty to set up Hingano's winning score.

An entertaining opening quarter saw La Rochelle punch home two tries from their wingers Alofa Alofa and Sereli Bobo, with Josua Tuisova countering for Toulon in between.

The former Waratahs flyer cancelled out Michalak's opening penalty when he chipped over the top of the defence from the right touchline and had the pace to beat the covering tacklers to score a sensational solo try.

A hectic first half-hour saw the lead change hands a number of times as Toulon hit back through a try from Gorgodze before La Rochelle full-back Kini Murimurivalu's try helped the hosts to a 22-20 lead at the interval.

The second half proved a much more cagey affair with Michalak trading penalties with Peter Grant to set up a tense finish, with the home side earning a well-deserved win with that late try from Hingano.

The scorers:

For La Rochelle:
Tries: Alofa, Bobo, Murimurivalu, Hingano
Cons: Fortassin 2, Grant
Pens: Fortassin, Grant

For Toulon:
Tries: Tuisova, Gorgodze
Cons: Michalak 2
Pens: Michalak 5
Yellow card: Gorgodze

La Rochelle: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Eliott Roudil, 12 Malietoa Hingano, 11 Sireli Bobo, 10 Fabien Fortassin, 9 Julien Audy, 8 Loann Goujon, 7 Kevin Gourdon, 6 Romain Sazy, 5 Leandro Cedaro, 4 Jason Eaton, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Hikairo Forbes, 1 Vincent Pelo
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Geledan, 17 Jordan Seneca, 18 Jacobus Grobler, 19 Jone Qovu, 20 Julien Berger, 21 Peter Grant, 22 Charles Bouldoire, 23 Lekso Kaulashvili

Toulon: 15 Drew Mitchell, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Rudi Wulf, 12 Jimmy Yobo, 11 David Smith, 10 Frédéric Michalak, 9 Eric Escande, 8 Gerhard Vosloo, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze, 6 Virgile Bruni, 5 Jocelino Suta, 4 Romain Taofifenua, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Alexandre Menini
Replacements: 16 Jean-Charles Orioli, 17 Florian Fresia, 18 Konstantin Mikautadze, 19 Juan Martín Fernandez Lobbe, 20 Matt Giteau, 21 Bryan Habana, 22 Sébastian Tillous-Borde, 23 Levan Chilachava