Toulon made a statement of intent after beating Montpellier 28-6 in their Top 14 clash at Stade Félix Mayol on Sunday.
The home side dominated for large periods and outscored Montpellier by three tries to none as Leigh Halfpenny finished with a 13-point haul courtesy of three penalties and two conversions.
The result is an important one for Toulon as it moves them up to fifth place in the standings, while Montpellier will rue their defeat as it cost them the opportunity of moving above Clermont into the top spot on the table.
The match started cautiously with Halfpenny and Ben Botica trading early penalties before Mamuka Gorgodze crossed for Toulon’s first try in the 33rd minute. Montpellier suffered a setback shortly afterwards when Charles Géli was sent to the sin bin for a cynical infringement at a ruck.
Halfpenny slotted the resulting penalty which gave his team a 13-3 lead at half-time. Botica added another penalty in the 43rd minute but that was the last time Montpellier would score points.
Two minutes later, Toulon struck back with a Josua Tuisova try and the next 25 minutes was a grind as both sides tried to gain the ascendancy.
Halfpenny added another three-pointer from the kicking tee in the 71st minute before Liam Gill secured the home side’s win with a try in the dying moments, along with the bonus point.
Tries: Gorgodze, Tuisova, Gill
Cons: Halpenny 2
Pens: Halfpenny 3
Pens: Botica 2
Yellow Card: Géli
Toulon: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Maxime Mermoz, 12 Matt Carraro, 11 Jimmy Yobo, 10 François Trinh-Duc, 9 Sébastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Charles Ollivon, 5 Samu Manoa, 4 Mamuka Gorgodze, 3 Levan Chilachava, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Florian Fresia
Replacements: 16 Anthony Etrillard, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Romain Taofifenua, 19 Liam Gill, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Pierre Bernard, 22 Éric Escande, 23 Marcel Van der Merwe
Montpellier: 15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Marvin O’Connor, 13 Alexandre Dumoulin, 12 François Steyn, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Ben Botica, 9 Benoit Paillaugue, 8 Akapusi Qera, 7 Wian Liebenberg, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Jacques du Plessis, 4 Konstantin Mikautadze, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Charles Géli, 1 Gregory Fichten
Replacements: 16 Shalva Mamukashvili, 17 Mikheil Nariashvili, 18 Paul Willemse, 19 Kélian Galletier, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Vincent Martin, 22 Henry Immelman, 23 Davit Kubriashvili
Referee: Salem Attalah