Planet Rugby

Toulon score 50 against Glasgow

13th October 2013 16:59

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Brace: Maxime Mermoz

European champions Toulon ran in six tries as they began their title defence with a 51-28 win over Glasgow on Sunday.

The home side were comfortably ahead after the first half, leading 34-0 at the interval thanks to four tries including a double from France centre Maxime Mermoz.

Glasgow, the leaders in the RaboDirect Pro12, were outclassed in the opening 40 minutes but found their groove in the second half to run in four tries to snatch a try bonus point, with Fijian star Niko Matawalu playing a central role in their revival.

Toulon were untouchable early on but the invincible aura around them gradually drained away, to the point where their supporters cheers turned to jeers as the second half wore on.

The champions though were never truly threatened for the lead, with their key players lead by Matt Giteau guiding them through their first challenge on the way to back-to-back titles.

Matawalu looked to have given Glasgow the perfect start when he kicked through behind the defence to score, but an earlier knock-on saw the Fijian's effort ruled out.

Early scrum trouble for Jon Welsh saw the tighthead concede consecutive penalties, Jonny Wilkinson adding three points from 30 metres out to put the champions ahead.

All Toulon needed was a sniff and Wilkinson made the first try happen, collecting a high kick and then combining with Mermoz to make the space outside for Delon Armitage to dive over in the corner for a wonderful try.

A rare error from the great fly-half handed Glasgow a central attacking scrum, a free-kick putting them on the attack but failing to yield the necessary points the Scottish side needed to get into the game.

Exceptional handling from Toulon then brought about their second try - a burst from Joe van Niekerk down the right touchline making the space inside for Josua Tuisova to send over Mermoz, the try awarded after a thorough examination from the TMO over the final pass.

For all of Glasgow's endeavour, their set-piece thwarted all their best efforts. A miscued line-out resulted in a scrum penalty, from which Toulon kicked into the corner and rumbled over for their third try from a rolling maul - captain Chris Masoe at the bottom of the pile for a textbook score.

Wilkinson departed with a hand injury, Frederic Michalak hardly proving to be a shabby replacement, but Glasgow proceeded to gift them an easy ride.

A five-metre line-out for the visitors should have ended in some points or at least an attack, but instead Toulon poached the ball and cleared their lines.

The eight-man juggernaut that was Toulon's maul continued to absorb the energy and focus of the visitors, leaving Mermoz with a simple run to the line off Michalak's cute pass for Toulon's try bonus-point after 35 minutes.

The France half-back added a penalty just before the interval to leave Toulon 34-0 ahead.

Glasgow found that missing bite from the first half, perhaps spurred on by having nothing to lose, as DTH van der Merwe went over for the try with Ruaridh Jackson converting.

Toulon reshuffled their backs with Michalak moving to scrum-half and Matt Giteau to 10, bringing on recent Wallaby signing Drew Mitchell for his first appearance in the Heineken Cup.

Giteau benefited from the extra space at first receiver to ghost through the Glasgow defence for try number five, the Toulon pack punching the necessary holes beforehand to free up the space for the Australian playmaker.

Glasgow's ambition though remained intact and the Pro12 leaders snatched a second try thanks to Jackson's break, relishing the open space to draw the last man and send Matawalu over under the posts.

In a similar manner to Exeter earlier in the day, Toulon gradually shut down as Glasgow made it three tries in the second half through Jonny Gray, brother of Castres lock' Richie, who crashed over after fine work from Matawalu and Ryan Grant.

Van der Merwe capitalised on Toulon's lax defending to make it four tries in 20 minutes for Glasgow, giving them a bonus point that will no doubt be refereed to in other difficult times throughout this competition.

Michalak's second penalty stemmed the flow of Glasgow points as Steffon Armitage made an impact off the bench at the breakdown, but Glasgow continued to probe and threaten the space behind the Toulon defensive line.

Giteau scampered over for his second try in the dying moments to bring up the 50-point mark for Toulon and add some gloss to the scoreline, but Glasgow had won the half. The champions though simply had too much class and quality in their squad, taking five Pool points from their opening fixture.

The scorers:

For Toulon:
Tries: D.Armitage, Mermoz 2, Masoe, Giteau 2
Cons: Wilkinson 3, Giteau, Michalak 2
Pens: Wilkinson, Michalak 2

For Glasgow:
Tries: van der Merwe 2, Matawalu, Gray
Cons: Jackson 4

Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Maxime Mermoz, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 David Smith, 10 Jonny Wilkinson (c), 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Joe van Niekerk, 6 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Benjamin Noirot, 1 Emmanuel Felsina.
Replacements: 16 Levan Chilachava, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Carl Hayman, 19 Steffon Armitage, 20 Juan Smith, 21 Drew Mitchell, 22 Frederic Michalak, 23 Danie Rossouw.

Glasgow: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Niko Matawalu, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Tim Swinson, 5 Al Kellock (c), 4 Jonny Gray, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Moray Low, 18 Ed Kalman, 19 James Eddie, 20 Richie Vernon, 21 Duncan Weir, 22 Byron McGuigan, 23 DTH van der Merwe.

Referee: Greg Garner (England)
Assistant referees: Andrew Small (England), Robin Goodliffe (England)
Television match official: Graham Hughes (England)

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