Wasps give reigning champions Toulon a torrid night at the Ricoh

Wasps give reigning champions Toulon a torrid night at the Ricoh

  • Wasps remain at the top of Champions Cup Pool 5 after thumping Toulon 32-6 at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday
  • Two tries in as many minutes from Nathan Hughes and Ruaridh Jackson had given the hosts a healthy 20-6 lead against the defending champions at the break
  • Frank Halai was next to touch down for Wasps before Hughes completed his brace to secure both the win and the try-scoring bonus point for Coventry-based team
Wasps produced arguably the biggest ever shock in European rugby history as they demolished reigning champions Toulon 32-6 in a remarkable evening at the Ricoh Arena.

Wasps produced arguably the biggest ever shock in European rugby history as they demolished reigning champions Toulon 32-6 in a remarkable evening at the Ricoh Arena.

The hosts enjoyed an outstanding start, racing into a 14-0 lead after ten minutes through Nathan Hughes and Ruaridh Jackson tries, both converted by Jackson.

But Jonathan Pelissie hit back with a penalty goal before Elliot Daly restored the home side’s 14-point lead ahead of a Jackson penalty on 29 minutes. But Pelissie added a second three-pointer to leave Wasps 20-6 up at half time.

However the game’s next score came on 50 minutes and it was Frank Halai who got it, Jackson with the extras, and Hughes got his second try of the night on 66 minutes to round off the scoring and secure a stunning bonus-point win for Dai Young’s men.

Toulon, winners of the last three European Cups and with a host of stars from Bryan Habana to Quade Cooper to call upon, arrived in Coventry as favourites, but Wasps, undaunted, came flying out of the traps from kick off.

And the fervent home side took a surprise lead on eight minutes. After Pelissie’s earlier missed penalty, it was Hughes who opened the scoring, the big number eight crashing in out wide to send the home fans into raptures.

Jackson impressively converted from the touchline and things got even better for the home crowd two minutes later; Jackson chipped the ball over the defence, Joe Simpson gathered, and Jackson got it back before racing away for the line. He improved his own try to set up a 14-point lead for the home side.

Pelissie cut that deficit with a penalty, but Daly struck back six minutes later, monstering the ball through the sticks from over 50 metres out.

Prior to Daly’s kick, Wasps’ Italian hooker Carlo Festuccia’s night was ended through injury, Ashley Johnson replacing him, but that didn’t stop the hosts’ fluidity.

Though Toulon finally got hold of some sustained possession, it was the home side who were next to score as Jackson kicked his first penalty of the game with 11 minutes left of the first half, before Pelissie handed the floundering visitors a lifeline just before the break to leave the three-time European champions 14 points down at the interval.

A tense start to the second half followed, but it soon sparked into life as Ulster-bound Charles Piutau charged into a gap before a bending run manufactured space for Halai to race over at the posts, despite the attentions of Delon Armitage.

Jackson improved and the men in black and gold had an outstanding 21-point lead to defend with half an hour to play.

That quickly became an unassailable lead as the 20-stone Number 8 Hughes forced his way over for his second try of a rampant afternoon for his side, making it 32-6 as the final ten minutes approached.

That proved to be the final score of the game and, just for good measure, the home side held out their illustrious visitors as they built some late pressure and desperately searched for a try in the closing stages.

But, thanks to a manful team effort, they fell short and were kept to a chastening try-less defeat, being kept to nil in the second 40.

The Entire Wasps Team

In a night of heroes, every single man stood up in a remarkable outcome for Wasps and a shot in the arm for the Premiership. Despite some injuries, every player played their part in a memorable night in Coventry.

Wasps: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Ben Jacobs, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 George Smith, 6 James Haskell (c), 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Sailosi Tagicakibau.

Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Jonathan Pelissie, 8 Steffon Armitage, 7 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 6 Juan Smith (c), 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Anthony Etrillard, 1 Xavier Chiocci.
Replacements: 16 Bastien Soury, 17 Florian Fresia, 18 Levan Chilachava, 19 Duane Vermeulen, 20 Mamuka Gorgodze, 21 Theo Belan, 22 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 23 Konstantine Mikautadze.

Date: Sunday, November 22
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 17:15 GMT
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Dudley Phillips (Ireland), Leo Colgan (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)