Planet Rugby

Toulon win in Cardiff

21st October 2012 14:41

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Matt Giteau C of Toulon is held up by Leigh Halfpenny R of Cardiff Blues

A handful in midfield: Matt Giteau

Toulon seized control of Heineken Cup Pool Six with a hard-fought 22-14 victory over the Blues at Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday.

All of Toulon's point came from Englishmen as man-of-the-match Steffon Armitage's try and 17 points from the boot of Jonny Wilkinson proved enough to make it two wins from two for the French club.

After losing a thriller at Sale last weekend, having led throughout, Cardiff had the chance to get their European adventure off the mark, and it was Leigh Halfpenny who got the Arms Park crowd on the edge of their seats with a second minute try.

Finishing a move that had gone along the Blues' back line, the full-back accepted the final pass inside from his winger, Tom James, to dot down and give the French side an early surprise.

But Toulon made good use of their forward power, taking the ball into contact at every opportunity, and with the threat of Matheiu Bastareaud, looked likely to prove difficult visitors for Cardiff.

Two Wilkinson penalties earned his side a slim lead, but Cardiff were eager to cause Toulon difficulties, with Alex Cuthbert in particular looking to continue last week's hat-trick heroics.

Cardiff's Gavin Evans suffered a nasty collision in a tackle with Delon Armitage, but the Englishman was unfairly considered by the partisan crowd to be the villain of the piece. The Cardiff centre had slipped going into contact, and took a head knock, before being stretchered off for treatment.

Both sides then missed penalty attempts, but Halfpenny's kick at goal in the final minute of the half was successful, giving his side an 8-6 half-time lead.

No sooner had the second half started, than Wilkinson regained the lead for Toulon with another pin-point kick at goal, but Halfpenny was finding it difficult, slipping while taking his fourth kick.

He did though, reduce the arrears to a single point with a penalty on the hour mark, but Toulon picked up the pace, and Steffon Armitage scored his first Heineken Cup try of the season. Carl Hayman had made a huge burst deep into Cardiff territory from a Bastareaud offload. Matt Giteau drove further up to the five metre line, and scrum-half Frederic Michalak spun the ball out to Armitage, who powered his way to touch the ball down just over the line.

A Wilkinson conversion stretched the lead to eight points, and chasing the game, Cardiff thought they could have earned a losing bonus point, if not a win, as Halfpenny scored his third successful kick of the day, with only minutes left on the clock.

But Wilkinson kicked another penalty to deny the Blues the losing bonus point, as his side took top spot in the table.

The scorers:

For Cardiff Blues:
Try: Halfpenny
Pens: Halfpenny 3

For Toulon:
Try: S. Armitage
Cons: Wilkinson
Pens: Wilkinson 5

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tom James, 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Andries Pretorius (c), 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Lou Reed, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Benoit Bourrust, 2 Marc Breeze, 1 Tafa'ao Filise.
Replacements: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 James Down, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Dafydd Hewitt.

Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Vincent Martin, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 David Smith, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Frederic Michalak, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Jocelino Suta, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Davit Kubriashvili, 2 Mickael Ivaldi, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Jean-Charles Orioli, 17 Andrew Sheridan, 18 Carl Hayman, 19 Pierrick Gunther, 20 Maxime Mermoz, 21 Benjamin Lapeyre, 22 Nicolas Durand, 23 Simon Shaw.

Venue: Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff
Referee: George Clancy

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