Top 14 newcomers Bayonne sprung the surprise of the opening weekend on Sunday with a 28-23 win over Toulon at the Stade Jean Dauger.
The star of the show for Bayonne was hooker Gregory Arganèse, who scored two tries, as last year’s Top 14 finalists suffered an early setback on the road.
Bayonne and Toulon’s respective full-backs were tasked with the kicking duties and Martín Bustos Moyano and Leigh Halfpenny traded early penalties before the Welshman put his side ahead with a second three-pointer.
But then with a sweeping move Bayonne took the lead, Bustos Moyano’s break finished off by Arganèse from close range. The full-back converted to put Bayonne ahead 10-6.
Willie du Plessis, a Rugby World Cup joker for Toulon last season, added another three points to stretch the lead, before Charles Ollivon went through the tackle of Arganèse to score with Halfpenny converting to tie the contest up at 13-13, which it remained at half-time.
Du Plessis was the next to score, adding a second penalty against his old side, before Arganèse grabbed his second try – the first double of his professional career at 33 – with a Du Plessis conversion giving the excited hosts a ten-point lead.
Halfpenny did chip away at the score with a penalty but Toulon soon lost Juan Smith to a yellow card for taking out Baptiste Chouzenoux in the air.
Bayonne’s desire to counter-attack though paid off, Jean Monribot finishing off a move for a 28-16 lead with 15 minutes left.
Matthieu Bastareaud’s break, after coming off the bench, resulted in a score for Toulon second row Romain Taofifenua to narrow the gap, but Bayonne desperately clung on in the closing stages for a morale-boosting win.
Tries: Arganèse 2, Monribot
Cons: Bustos Moyano, Du Plessis
Pens: Bustos Moyano, Du Plessis 2
Tries: Ollivon, Taofifeuna
Cons: Halfpenny 2
Pens: Halfpenny 3
Yellow Card: Smith
Bayonne: 15 Martín Bustos Moyano, 14 Romain Martial, 13 Felix Le Bourhis, 12 Julien Jane, 11 Bastien Fuster, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Guillaume Rouet, 8 PJ van Vill, 7 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 6 Jean Monribot, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Pablo Huete, 3 Richard Choirat, 2 Gregory Arganèse, 1 Davit Khinchagishvili
Replacements: 16 Manu Leiataua, 17 Jérome Schuster, 18 Adam Jaulhac, 19 Dion Evrard Oulai, 20 Manu Saubusse, 21 John Beattie, 22 Julien Tisseron, 23 Lorenzo Cittadini
Toulon: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Mickaël Blanc, 13 Maxime Mermoz, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Jimmy Yobo, 10 François Trinh-Duc, 9 Sébastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Charles Ollivon, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Mamuka Gorgodze, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Jocelino Suta, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Badri Alkhazashvili, 1 Florian Fresia
Replacements: 16 Jean Charles Orioli, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Samu Manoa, 19 Juan Smith, 20 Mathieu Bastareaud, 21 Pierre Bernard, 22 Jonathan Pélissié, 23 Levan Chilachava
Referee: Salem Attalah