Toulon go second in Top 14 with Racing victory

acing's French fly-half Remi Tales (L) vies with Toulon's New Zealander's wing Tom Taylor (R)

Toulon went second in France’s Top-14 on Saturday moving ahead of Racing 92 with a thrilling 21-20 win over the Paris side in front of 40,000 fans in Lille.

The match, opposing two sides packed with international talent, came two weeks before they are due to face-off again in the European Champions Cup quarter-finals.

Both sides scored two tries with Frederic Michalak nailing the winning penalty kick for Toulon with the last action of the match.

Toulon now have 61 points, just one point behind leaders Clermont who have a tough trip to Bordeaux on Sunday. Racing slip back to third place after two straight losses.

Michalak, making his first start since France’s World Cup quarter-final final thrashing to New Zealand in October, and Dan Carter, playing at centre for the home side, had an early exchange of penalties before Toulon scored the opening try of the game.

Racing were pressing just short of the Toulon try-line only for hooker Jean-Charles Orioli to intercept. He fed winger Delon Armitage, who sprinted clear and held off a late challenge to touch down in the corner.

Michalak made it 11-3 with another penalty before Racing enjoyed a long period of sustained pressure, from which they were unable to add to their score before half-time.

They were made to pay the price for that lack of a cutting edge 10 minutes into the second half with another piece of opportunism from Toulon.

No.8 Charles Ollivon was quickest to pounce on a loose ball at a maul allowing him to break through the middle past two tackles.

He offloaded to centre Theo Belan who ran in unopposed for his side’s second try. Michalak converted to make it 18-3 to the visitors.

Carter popped over his second penalty on the hour and with six minutes to go Racing finally managed a try, flanker Wenceslas Laurent barging his way over through two covering tackles.

At 18-13 down Racing needed a converted try to pull off an unlikely win, and they thought they had got that with three minutes to go, scrum-half Maxime Machenaud breaking clear to feed inside to Carter.

But from the kick-off replacement prop Martin Castrogiovanni was collared for obstruction and Michalak slotted home the winning kick from 35 metres out.

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