Toulon come from behind to beat Exeter Chiefs

Heineken Cup champions Toulon came from behind to secure their second away
win of the season when they beat a brave Exeter Chiefs side 9-14 and move to
the top of Heineken Cup Pool 2 at Sandy Park Stadium.

The French side – whose form has been patchy at best this season – will be
relieved that they got away with former England great Jonny Wilkinson having
a rare off-day, missing four kicks though he did slot over the drop goal five
minutes from time that gave them the 14-9 lead.

They top the group by a point from Welsh side Cardiff Blues after three games
while Exeter, who were going down to their fourth successive defeat in all competitions,
are third and Glasgow bottom.

Exeter took an early lead through a penalty but Toulon struck back with a superb
try in the fifth minute as prop Florian Fresia went in on the right wing after
a glorious offload by former All Black lock Ali Williams.

Wilkinson missed the conversion to leave it 5-3 to Toulon. However he landed
a penalty in the 11th minute to make it 8-3 but his opposite number, Northern
Irishman Gareth Steenson, converted a penalty shortly afterwards to put the
hosts within two points of the champions.

That was his last contribution as he went off to be replaced by 20-year-old
Henry Slade.

Slade showed little sign of nerves and produced one brilliant clearing kick
deep into Toulon territory and was then twice involved in Exeter’s most probing
attack of the first-half which came to nothing as a pass flew into touch just
five metres short of the line.

Slade, though, gave Exeter the lead shortly before half-time with a finely
struck penalty and the half ended on an even lower note for Toulon as South
African wing Bryan Habana pulled up in agony clutching his left hamstring on
what was his debut in the competition.

Wilkinson had two chances to restore the lead to Toulon early in the second-half
but missed both penalties from long distance – one falling short and the other
going wide and his unaccustomedly poor day with the boot continued as he sent
another chance well wide of the posts with 20 minutes remaining.

Toulon, however, piled on the pressure and eventually regained the lead as
Matt Giteau put over a penalty and Wilkinson chipped in with the drop goal to
give them the crucial win.

Final Score Exeter Chiefs (9) 9 Toulon (8) 14


Pens: Steenson (2), Slade

Try: Fresia
Pens: Wilkinson, Giteau
Drop-goal: Wilkinson

Match Officials
Alain Rolland (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Eddie Hogan-O’Connell (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Nigel Correll (Ireland),
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland),
Citing Commissioner: Denis Templeton (Ireland)


Exeter Chiefs: Luke Arscott; Jack Nowell, Phil Dollman, Jason
Shoemark, Matt Jess; Gareth Steenson, Dave Lewis; Ben Moon, Jack Yeandle, Hoani
Tui, Dean Mumm (c), Damian Welch, Tom Johnson, Ben White, Dave Ewers

Replacements: Chris Whitehead, Brett Sturgess, Alex Brown, James Hanks, Kai
Horstmann, Haydn Thomas, Henry Slade, Ian Whitten

Toulon: Drew Mitchell; Alexis Palisson, Mathieu Bastareaud,
Matt Giteau, Bryan Habana; Jonny Wilkinson (c), Sebastien Tillous-Borde; Florian
Fresia, Craig Burden, Martin Castrogiovanni, Bakkies Botha, Ali Williams, Juan
Smith, Steffon Armitage, Chris Masoe

Replacements: Jean-Charles Orioli, Xavier Chiocci, Carl Hayman, Virgile Bruni,
Rudi Wulf, Maxime Mermoz, Michael Claassens, Jocelino Suta

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