Planet Rugby

Toulon ease to opening win

15th August 2014 21:50

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Mathieu Bastareaud charges v Bayonne 2014

Battering ram: Mathieu Bastareaud scored the first try of the new season

Matt Giteau kicked 16 points as Toulon got the defence of their Top 14 title underway in style with a 29-15 win at Bayonne.

The reigning French and European champions were made to work hard in the first half, going in level at the break, but Mathieu Bastareaud and David Smith went over in the second half although they missed out on a bonus point.

But while it was the backs who grabbed the tries, it was the Toulon scrum that was the foundation for their win, earning them a number of penalties, as well as a man advantage when Gert Muller was sin-binned.

For Bayonne, the accurate kicking of Martin Bustos Moyano allowed them to stay in touch for the first 50 minutes, but once the first try was scored, they lacked the creative spark and forward power to threaten a comeback.

Toulon dominated the early exchanges, and earned a kickable penalty after just six minutes when young number eight Charles Ollivon was caught offside in his own 22 with his side under pressure. Giteau made no mistake to make it 3-0.

Having been under pressure Bayonne finally got their hands on the ball thanks to a great chase from the kick-off by Marvin O'Connor, and when Virgile Bruni failed to roll away soon after, Martin Bustos Moyano levelled the scores.

Toulon were dominating possession, and also gained the upper hand in the scrum, earning two penalties in quick succession, with Giteau slotting the second of the two to make it 6-3.

Despite being on top, Toulon were not able to pull away on the scoreboard, and Bustos Moyano equalised once more after a high tackle by new recruit Romain Taofifenua on Ollivon.

It did not last for long though, as Jean Monribot was penalised for playing the scrum-half in a ruck, handing Giteau the simplest of shots at goal.

Once more Bayonne responded, Bustos Moyano slotting another three-pointer when Steffon Armitage failed to release in a tackle and they added three more to tie things up at 12-12 on the stroke of half-time for an infringement by Maxime Mermoz.

The second half started in similar manner to the first, with Toulon taking advantage of their dominance in the scrum to move back in front.

Muller, having just replaced the struggling Giorgi Jgenti, was sent to the sin bin when the Bayonne scrum was penalised once more, and Delon Armitage, who had missed a long-range first-half effort, was this time on target to make it 15-12.

And with the extra man Toulon finally found a way through the Bayonne defence, with Bastareaud crashing over an initial break from his centre partner Mermoz. Despite a hint of an obstruction in the build-up, the try was awarded, with Giteau converting to stretch the lead to ten.

Bayonne responded straigtaway, despite being a man down, earning another penalty, which Bustos Moyano slotted to reduce the deficit.

But Toulon were in the ascendancy, and they added a second try of the night through David Smith after some good work down the left wing initially from Drew Mitchell.

As the ball came back left, Steffon Armitage found Bastareaud, whose nudged kick allowed Smith to dot down just before the dead ball line. Giteau made no mistake with the tricky conversion and Toulon led 29-15 with more than half an hour remaining.

Bayonne kept fighting, and Ollivon, in particular, showed all his potential with one great break, but he was the only player who appeared to have the power to match Toulon.

They did come within inches of a try with ten minutes remaining when replacement Blair Stewart's kick through looked to be setting up former Toulon man Gabiriele Lovobalavu, but the ball bounced the wrong way with the line at his mercy.

The scorers:

For Bayonne:
Pens: Bustos Moyano 5
Yellow Card: Muller

For Toulon:
Tries: Bastareaud, Smith
Cons: Giteau 2
Pens: Giteau 4, D Armitage

Bayonne: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 Martin Bustos Moyano, 13 Joe Rokocoko, 12 Mathieu Ugalde, 11 Marvin O'Connor, 10 Santiago Fernandez, 9 Christophe Loustalot, 8 Charles Ollivon, 7 Dwayne Haare, 6 Jean Monribot, 5 Mark Chisholm (c), 4 Dewald Senekal, 3 Giorgi Jgenti, 2 Gregory Arganese, 1 Janse Van Rensburg.

Replacements: 16 Simon Labouyrie, 17 Aretz Iguiniz, 18 Lisiate Fa'aoso, 19 Jean Jo Marmouyet, 20 Guillaume Rouet, 21 Blair Stewart, 22 Gabiriele Lovobalavu, 23 Gert Muller.

Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Drew Mitchell, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 David Smith, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Steffon Armitage, 7 Virgile Bruni, 6 Gerhard Vosloo, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Jocelino Suta, 3 Carl Hayman (c), 2 Jean-Charles Orioli, 1 Xavier Chiocci.

Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Alexandre Menini, 18 Chris Masoe, 19 Konstantin Mikautadze, 20 Rudi Wulf, 21 James O'Connor, 22 Michael Claassens, 23 Levan Chilachava.

Date: Friday, August 15
Venue: Stade Jean Dauger
Kick-off: 20.45 local (19.45 GMT)
Referee: Jérôme Garcès
Assistant referees: Nicolas Datas, Christophe Malterre

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