Toulon power past Cardiff into last eight

Heineken Cup champions Toulon powered to a 43-20 bonus point victory over Cardiff Blues to book a place in the last eight at Allianz Riviera on Saturday.

Playing at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice, in front of their best-ever
European crowd of 31,150, Toulon had three penalties tries to thank for their
success – and four yellow cards dished out to the battling Blues.

The Welsh region, who had beaten Toulon 19-15 at the Arms Park in the second
round, stood up to the test manfully in the first-half and were only 15-13 behind
at the break. The boot of Jonny Wilkinson had kicked five of his six penalty
opportunities, while Samoan lock Filo Paulo conjured up the first try of the
game.

His grub kick into the home 22 caused problems for Aussie full back Drew Mitchell
and his attempted clearance kick was half charged down. Robin Copeland gathered
the ball, sped for the corner and then passed inside to Paulo when he was tackled.

Paulo easily bumped off Wilkinson and his half back partner Seb Tillous-Borde
to reach the corner. Leigh Halfpenny converted off the touchline to add to his
two earlier penalties.

English referee Greg Garner had brandished his first card in the sixth minute,
sending Chris Czekaj to the sin-bin for a technical offence, and then issued
two more in the opening minutes of the second half.

Tight head prop Benoit Bourrust was the first to go after a collapsed scrum
and then replacement back row man Ellis Jenkins followed suite for deliberately
collapsing a driving maul. Both cards came after Garner had awarded penalty
tries.

The third came at the death after Copeland had been despatched for kicking
the ball out of the hands of Fred Michalak at a ruck in front of the Blues posts.
At the resulting scrum the third penalty try was awarded.

Sandwiched in between the penalty tries was a corner score from Dave Smith
and Wilkinson converted all four. The Blues battled back to grab a second try
from Sam Hobbs in the 70th minute, but they were never able to reach the dizzy
heights of their round two triumph.

Even so, they can still reach 18 points with a bonus point win over Exeter
Chiefs at the Arms Park next weekend and could still clinch a ticket into the
Amlin Challenge Cup last eight.

Final Score Toulon (15) 43 Cardiff Blues (13) 20

Scorers

Toulon
Tries – Penalty try 3, D Smith
Pen -Wilkinson 5
Con – Wilkinson 4
Drop –

Cardiff Blues
Tries – Paulo, Hobbs
Pen –
Con – Halfpenny 2
Drop –

Match Officials

Referee: Greg Garner (England),
Assistant ref : Steve Lee (England),
Assistant ref : Andrew Pearce (England),
TMO : Rowan Kitt (England),
Citing Commissioner : Stefano Marrama (Italy)

Toulon: Drew Mitchell; Rudi Wulf, Mathieu Bastareaud, Matt Giteau, David Smith; Jonny Wilkinson (c), Sebastien Tillous-Borde; Andrew Sheridan, Craig Burden, Carl Hayman, Bakkies Botha, Jocelino Suta, Juan Smith, Joe van Niekerk, Steffon Armitage

Replacements: Jean-Charles Orioli, Florian Fresia, Martin Castrogiovanni, Pierrick Gunther, Delon Armitage, Maxime Mermoz, Frederic Michalak, Konstantine Mikautadze

Cardiff Blues: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Richard Smith, Gavin Evans, Chris Czekaj; Gareth Davies, Lloyd Williams; Gethin Jenkins (c), Marc Breeze, Benoit Bourrust, Chris Dicomidis, Filo Paulo, Macauley Cook, Josh Navidi, Robin Copeland

Replacements: Rhys Williams, Sam Hobbs, Scott Andrews, James Down, Ellis Jenkins, Lewis Jones, Dafydd Hewit

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