Bonus-point win for Toulon

Date published: January 15 2017

Toulon had to rely on two late tries to pick up a bonus-point 27-12 win over Sale Sharks in their Champions Cup clash on Sunday.

It took just two minutes for Toulon to get the first score on the board. Former All-Black Ma'a Nonu scoring his first try in European competition.

Sam James struck back for Sale with a magnificent effort as a young Sale side stamped their mark on the French giants.

Bryan Habana scored the home side's second after an hour after a crucial error from Mike Haley. This was countered by a good try from the Sale pack, finished off by Rob Webber to set up a close finish.

Sale kept knocking on the door but the Toulon defence, marshalled by the prowling Richard Cockerill on the sidelines, held strong to maintain their lead.

Toulon needed a bonus-point win to realistically keep their qualification hopes alive ahead of a trip to Allianz Park next weekend to play Pool leaders Saracens.

Two tries in the final minutes from Jonathan Pelissie and Josua Tuisova gave them just that as they made sure of a hard-fought 27-12 win.

Nonu opened the scoring for Toulon after just two minutes. The World Cup winner powered over from 10 metres out and was too much to handle for the visitors' defence as he touched down to make the score 5-0.

James drew Sale level with a stunning try in the 12th minute. The fly-half chipped over the Toulon defence before running onto the ball which bounced perfectly into his grasp, allowing him to run in under the posts unopposed. Will Addison converted to make the score 5-7.

Toulon were reduced to 14 men after Leigh Halfpenny was sent to the sin-bin in the 24th minute after a deliberate knock-on.

Sale went into half-time with a 5-7 lead but three minutes into the second-half, Halfpenny scored a penalty to nudge the hosts back in-front.

Toulon were gifted their second try on the hour mark after a comedy of errors. Haley took too long to execute a clearing kick and his effort was charged down by Habana. The ball spilled loose but could not be gathered by Paulo Odogwu and Habana gathered to score. Halfpenny's conversion took the score line to 15-7.

Sale would not lie down though and a fantastic line-out led to a driving maul by the Sale pack. Webber managed to touch down to score his side's second try. Addison's missed conversion left Sale with a three-point deficit with 15 minutes to play.

In the 76th minute, Kieran Longbottom picked up a yellow card for the visitors to all but end their challenge.

With three minutes left to play, Pelissie added a third try for Toulon in the corner. Halfpenny scored the conversion with the clock ticking down to make the score 22-12.

Tuisova scored the vital bonus-point try with 30 seconds left on the clock as Toulon won 27-12 to keep their Champions Cup hopes alive.

The scorers:

For Toulon:
Tries: Nonu, Habana, Pelissie, Tuisova
Cons: Halfpenny 2
Pen: Halfpenny
Yellow Card: Halfpenny

For Sale:
Tries: James, Webber
Con: Addison
Yellow Card: Longbottom

Toulon: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 James O'Connor, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Pierre Bernard, 9 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 6 Liam Gill, 5 Samu Manoa, 4 Jocelino Suta, 3 Marcel Van Der Merwe, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Laurent Delboulbès
Replacements: 16 Jean-Charles Orioli, 17 Florian Fresia, 18 Levan Chilachava, 19 Juan Smith, 20 Matt Giteau, 21 Josua Tuisova, 22 Jonathan Pelissie, 23 Mamuka Gorgodze

Sale: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Paolo Odogwu, 13 Will Addison (c), 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Josh Charnley, 10 Sam James, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Laurence Pearce, 7 David Seymour, 6 Magnus Lund, 5 Jonathan Mills, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 James Flynn, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 George Nott, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Tom Curry, 22 James Mitchell, 23 Dan Mugford

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Stuart Gaffikin (Ireland), Ken Imbusch (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)