Toulon leave Ulster’s hopes hanging by a thread

Toulon have left Ulster’s hopes of making the European Rugby Champions Cup play offs hanging by a thread after they beat the Irish side 13-23 at the Kingspan Stadium.

Toulon underlined their status as champions of European rugby and even though
they were not at their best in beating the Scarlets last weekend, they were
back in stride as they overpowered their hosts.

Wings Bryan Habana and Delon Armitage got their tries, with Leigh Halfpenny
adding 13 points with the boot.

Craig Gilroy got a late consolation score for Ulster, with replacement Ian
Humphreys missing a last-gasp penalty to salvage a bonus point.

It means the hosts have lost their first two Pool 3 games, but Toulon are
sitting pretty having picked up two victories.

Halfpenny kicked them into an early lead with two penalties, before a sharp
Gilroy break gave Ulster the field position for Paddy Jackson to put them on
the board.

But Toulon were in control. Steffon Armitage was a nuisance at the breakdown
and Mathieu Bastareaud caused havoc in midfield.

They retained control despite the loss to injury of Juan Martin Fernandez
Lobbe and Matt Giteau to injury inside the opening half an hour, with Juan Smith
and James O’Connor their replacements.

Toulon ought to have scored the opening try when Delon Armitage was sent clear,
only for Halfpenny’s final pass to be ruled forward.

It was a brief reprieve for Ulster. Halfpenny quickly slotted his third penalty
and then Habana struck on half-time.

Smith and Chris Masoe both produced excellent offloads to send the Springbok
racing in at the corner, with Halfpenny converting.

Ulster came back out with the wind behind them in the second half and Jackson’s
second penalty trimmed the deficit to 10 points.

But any hopes of a comeback were killed off by Delon Armitage. The French
side’s defence looked in disarray after conceding a turnover, only for Armitage
to race out of the line and pick off Nick Williams’ pass to dot down under the

There was no way back for Ulster, although clever footwork from Gilroy did
give them a late shot at a bonus point, only for Humphreys to push his final
penalty attempt.

Final Score Ulster 13 (3) Toulon 23 (16)


Tries – Gilroy
Pen – Jackson 2
Con – Jackson
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – Habana, D Armitage
Pen – Halfpenny 3
Con – Halfpenny 2
Drop –
Cards –


Match Officials
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England),
Assistant ref: Tim Wigglesworth (England),
Assistant ref: Nigel Carrick (England),
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England),
Citing Commissioner: Peter Larter (England)


Ulster Rugby: Louis Ludik; Tommy Bowe, Jared Payne, Stuart Olding, Craig Gilroy; Paddy Jackson, Paul Marshall; Andy Warwick, Rory Best (c), Wiehahn Herbst, Lewis Stevenson, Franco Van Der Merwe, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Roger Wilson

Replacements: Rob Herring, Callum Black, Declan Fitzpatrick, Clive Ross, Nick Williams, Michael Heaney, Ian Humphreys, Darren Cave

RC Toulon: Leigh Halfpenny; Delon Armitage, Mathieu Bastareaud, Maxime Mermoz, Bryan Habana; Matt Giteau, Michael Claassens; Alexandre Menini, Guilhem Guirado, Carl Hayman (c), Jocelino Suta, Rom

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