Toulon knock Leinster out of European Cup

Steffon Armitage has signed for Pau

Triple European champions Toulon effectively knocked former Champions Leinster out of this year’s Rugby Champions Cup with a 24-9 victory at Stade Felix Mayol

Leinster were again well short of their best but Toulon were also not as convincing as they have been in past peformances.

Mathematically Leinster could still qualify but in reality they need a miracle to qualify for the play offs and the  loss is Leinster’s third consecutive loss in the European Cup.

Toulon’s 15 point winning margin does not accurately reflect the match as man of the match Steffon Armitage scored his second try in the final minute of the match.

Toulon led by a point at half time but won the second half 14-0.

Toulon were put to the sword by Wasps at the Ricoh Arena in the opening game of their latest defence of the title, but they extended their unbeaten home record to 16 games in the tournament with a hard-fought victory.

Leinster arrived knowing that a third consecutive win in Pool 1 would end any hopes of reaching the last eight and they didn’t help themselves by having three forwards sent to the sin-bin. Steffon Armitage scored both tries for the home side from driving line-outs.

The home side, chasing a fourth successive title, paraded their latest big name signing, All Black World Cup winner Ma’a Nonu, for the first time in Europe and they were looking to pick themselves up from their heavy defeat by Wasps in Coventry in Round 2.

The visitors were given the perfect start when former Saracens and England prop Matt Stevens collapsed the first scrum and Jonny Sexton hit the target from near the half-way line after only three minutes.

Early indiscretions by the champions allowed Leinster to build an advantage and Sexton doubled the lead with is second penalty in the sixth penalty after the home side had gone over the top at a ruck. But if the signs were encouraging for Leo Cullen’s side, they got a reminder of Toulon’s power 10 minute into the game.

Having ignored a kickable penalty shot, and instead kicked into the right corner, they turned a line-out take by Samu Manoa into an unstoppable driving maul which resulted in Steffon Armitage crossing for a try which scrum half Eric Escande improved.

Escande then kicked a penalty to make it 10-6, but Seton replied to make it a one point game at the end of the first half. Leinster survived 10 minutes without prop Cian Healy, who was sent to the sin-bin for a reckless challenge on Guilhem Guirado at a ruck, but it was a different story when Devin Toner followed him to the touchline six minutes into the second half.

This time Escande was able to add two more penalties to his tally and by the time the towering Ireland lock returned the home side had moved into a 16-9 lead. There was one more penalty from the boot of the scrum half in the 67th minute which cruelly took away from the visitors any hopes of salvaging a losing bonus point.

Replacement lock Tom Denton became the third Leinster forward to be shown a yellow card and no sooner had he gone off than Toulon scored another driving line-out try from Steffon Armitage.

Final Score Toulon 24 (10) Leinster 9 (9)


Tries – Armitage (2)
Pen – Escande (4)
Con – Escande
Drop –

Tries –
Pen – Sexton (3)
Con –
Drop –

Match Officials
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales),
Assistant ref: Gwyn Morris (Wales),
Assistant ref: Wayne Davies (Wales),
TMO: Derek Bevan (Wales),
Citing Commissioner: John Byett (England)


RC Toulon: Delon Armitage; Bryan Habana, Mathieu Bastareaud, Ma’a Nonu, Drew Mitchell; Matt Giteau, Eric Escande; Florian Fresia, Guilhem Guirado, Matt Stevens, Samu Manoa, Romain Taofifenua, Mamuka Gorgodze, Steffon Armitage, Duane Vermeulen

Replacements: Anthony Etrillard, Xavier Chiocci, Levan Chilachava, Juan Smith, Tom Taylor, Maxime Mermoz, Anthony Meric, Jocelino Suta

Leinster Rugby: Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Ben Te’o, Luke Fitzgerald, Isa Nacewa (c); Johnny Sexton, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy, Rhys Ruddock, Josh Van Der Flier, Jamie Heaslip

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Tom Denton, Jordi Murphy, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Dave Kearney.

With thanks to ERC Rugby. 

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