Toulon 24-9 Leinster: Steffon Armitage’s brace steers reds to win against Irish in the Champions Cup
Toulon eased to a 24-9 victory to condemn Pool 5 rivals Leinster to a third successive defeat in the European Rugby Champions Cup
England hot-topic Steffon Armitage scored a try in each half as the star-studded reds eased to victory
Scrum-half Eric Escande kicked four penalties and a conversion
Jonathan Sexton kicked three penalties for Leinster at Stade Felix Mayol
Leinster endured three yellow cards from referee Nigel Owens
The defeat sees the Irish province exit the competition after just three rounds
Steffon Armitage scored twice as reigning European champions Toulon edged out Leinster 24-9 at Stade Felix Mayol for their first Champions’ Cup win of the season.
Johnny Sexton kicked two early penalty goals as the visitors raced into a 6-0 lead, but Armitage’s try, plus an Eric Escande conversion, turned the scoreboard around.
Escande was again on target on 23 minutes, this time with a penalty, before Sexton cut the gap with a three-pointer of his own.
But that was as far as Leinster’s challenge got, Escande adding three more penalties in the second half before Armitage crossed for his second try on 79 minutes to seal the win.
Toulon, Champions’ Cup champions for the past three seasons, were not at their best against a determined Leinster side, but the Top 14 big guns were able to get their campaign started after their humbling 32-6 loss at Wasps three weeks ago and postponement of their first game.
Leinster had opportunities and even when Armitage finished a Duane Vermeulen-inspired catch and drive try, they were still in the game after three Sexton penalties.
The Blues’ front row was steely in defence, Cian Healy standing out, and all three, including Richardt Strauss and Mike Ross were left exhausted and replaced after 50 minutes, but it was Leinster’s poor discipline that eventually cost them.
They survived Healy’s first-half sin-binning, but Escande landed two penalties during the time when Devin Toner was on the sidelines to turn the game.
Leinster conceded 17 penalties during the game, but were finally out of the contest in the final minute when Tom Denton was yellow carded and Armitage crashed over from a line-out, setting up an potentially intriguing tie between the two sides at the RDS Arena next Saturday.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Toulon: Steffon Armitage
In a game which was low on scoreboard action, Armitage stole the show with an impressive and ultimately crucial double, once again displaying his international class for the Top 14 side.
Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Eric Escande, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Mamuka Gorgodze, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Florian Fresia.
Replacements: 16 Anthony Etrillard, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Levan Chilachava, 19 Juan Smith, 20 Tom Taylor, 21 Maxime Mermoz, 22 Anthony Meric, 23 Jocelino Suta.
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Ben Te’o, 12 Luke Fitzgerald, 11 Isa Nacewa (c), 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Tom Denton, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Dave Kearney.
Date: Sunday, December 13
Venue: Stade Mayol
Kick-off: 16:15 local (15:15 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Wayne Davies (Wales)
TMO: Derek Bevan (Wales)