Planet Rugby

Cardiff Blues shock Toulon

19th October 2013 15:29

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GARETH DAVIES CARDIFF BLUES

Late winner: Gareth Davies

Gareth Davies scored a late try as Cardiff Blues snatched an upset 19-15 victory over defending Heineken Cup champions Toulon at Arms Park on Saturday.

The replacement scored the game's only try with just three minutes left on the clock as Cardiff bounced back in style from last week's mauling against Exeter Chiefs.

Jonny Wilkinson's 15 points looked to have sealed the win for the French outfit in terrible conditions in South Wales but Davies' late try gave Cardiff a famous win.

Both sides struggled to create try-scoring opportunities throughout the match and the contest was left to be settled by the kickers, with Rhys Patchell and Leigh Halfpenny also impressing.

Patchell boldly chose kick a penalty from the touchline inside his own half for goal, but the Blues fly-half made light work of slotting the ball between the posts to put Cardiff in front.

The reigning champions thought they were ahead as Fijian winger Josua Tuisova crossed over the whitewash 17 minutes in but his pass to Steffon Armitage in the build up was adjudged to have gone forward.

Appalling conditions made handling difficult but the French giants were soon level through the ever-reliable boot of Wilkinson in an error strewn opening quarter.

Toulon's power started to shine through and Wilkinson kicked the visitors into the lead as Filo Paulo needlessly dumped hooker Jean-Charles Orioli to the ground without the ball.

Chances were few and far between as the rain continued to pour in Cardiff, but Lions star Halfpenny, after missing an attempt minutes earlier, split the posts with a penalty to ensure the scores were level at the break.

The Top 14 side flexed their muscles by changing their whole front row and Wilkinson soon put Toulon in front in the second half with his third penalty after referee JP Doyle penalised the home side for interfering at the line-out.

The fly-half uncharacteristically failed to convert another penalty but he atoned for the miss with the simplest of kicks minutes later as the Toulon pack powered through Cardiff's front eight in the scrum.

Delon Armitage received some glaring stares from his forwards as his booming clearing kick sailed the length of the field, giving Cardiff a great platform to launch an assault on Toulon for the first time in the second half. Despite once again dominating the scrum, replacement Emmanuel Felsina was penalised for pushing the scrum upwards and Halfpenny nailed the resulting penalty before adding a fourth minutes later to level the scores once again.

Toulon continued to look the more threatening and Fijian back Tuisova chipped the ball towards the try-line but his run was halted by Halfpenny as the referee and TMO awarded the visitors a crucial penalty.

Wilkinson converted to give Toulon a slender lead going into the final five minutes but Cardiff ramped up the pressure in the final moments with a scrum on the visitors' 22.

Cardiff flung the ball out wide and centre Cory Allen danced his way to within five metres of Toulon's try-line before Davies dived over for the game's only try to send Cardiff Arms Park into raptures.

Halfpenny slotted the conversion to put Cardiff four points ahead in the dying moments and the hosts withstood a late barrage of attacks to secure a famous Heineken Cup win.

The scorers:

For Cardiff Blues:
Try: G. Davies
Con: Halfpenny
Pens: Patchell, Halfpenny 3

For Toulon:
Pens: Wilkinson 5

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Owen Williams, 12 Cory Allen, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Matthew Rees (capt), 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Marc Breeze, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Rory Watts-Jones, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Richard Smith.

Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Maxime Mermoz, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Jonny Wilkinson (capt), 9 Frederic Michalak, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Jean-Charles Orioli, 1 Xavier Chiocci.
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Noirot, 17 Emmanuel Felsina, 18 Carl Hayman, 19 Juan Smith, 20 Virgile Bruni, 21 Drew Mitchell, 22 Alexis Palisson, 23 Jocelino Suta.

Venue: Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff
Referee: JP Doyle

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