MATCH SUMMARY - TOULON 29-7 BATH RUGBY
A dominant first half from Toulon contributed to Bath Rugby’s 29-7 defeat in Round 2 of the EPCR Challenge Cup.
Jiuta Wainiqolo, Maëlan Rabut and Bruce Devaux crossed for the rouge et noir while Dan Biggar kicked nine points.
Gervais Cordin bumped his way to the line for a bonus point, while replacement hooker Tom Doughty went over late on for the visitors.
Bath made six changes for the trip to the south of France with Lewis Boyce earning his first start since his return from injury.
There was a completely fresh look to the back row as Tom Ellis, Miles Reid and Richard de Carpentier were introduced while Max Ojomoh and Will Butt came into the backline.
Wales international Dan Biggar took the 10 jersey for Toulon and 142 Italy capped Sergio Parisse continued in his Number 8 role.
Toulon: 15 Thomas Salles, 14 Gervais Cordin, 13 Jérémy Sinzelle, 12 Maëlan Rabut, 11 Jiuta Wainiqolo, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Jules Danglot; 1 Bruce Devaux, 2 Anthony Etrillard, 3 Kieran Brookes, 4 Swan Rebbadj, 5 Adrien Warion, 6 Jules Coupon, 7 Raphaël Lakafia, 8 Sergio Parisse ©
Replacements: 16 Teddy Baubigny, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Beka Gigashvili, 19 Charles Ollivon, 20 Brian Alainu'uese, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Aymeric Luc
Bath Rugby: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Will Butt, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Ben Spencer ©; 1 Lewis Boyce, 2 Tom Dunn, 3 D’Arcy Rae, 4 Dave Attwood, 5 Fergus Lee-Warner, 6 Tom Ellis, 7 Miles Reid, 8 Richard de Carpentier
Impact players: 16 Tom Doughty, 17 Valeriy Morozov, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Max Green, 22 Orlando Bailey, 23 Ted Hill
Biggar tested Bath with a spiral bomb early on which Tom de Glanville took cleanly as a chorus of ‘Allez Toulon’ rang around Stade Mayol.
The hosts were lively, mostly through scrum-half Jules Danglot who made 40 metres from a quick tap, however a combination of de Carpentier and Reid thwarted any real opportunity.
Bath’s defence was solid and forced Toulon into handling errors, but it was the home side’s scrum which gave them front-foot ball with Biggar knocking over three points from close range.
A wave of Toulon attacks followed and they kept their foot on the pedal in pursuit of the game’s first try. It came on 15 minutes as wing Wainiqolo stepped in from the left and dotted down on the stretch.
The response from Johann van Graan’s men was positive. Piers Francis took the ball to the line from distance like an NFL Running Back and a phase later, Toulon were turned as Max Ojomoh dabbed a kick in behind the right wing.
Moments later, the same sequence occurred on the opposite side. This time it was de Glanville who spotted space with a grubber and Danglot was only a split second ahead of Joe Cokanasiga in dotting down over the whitewash.
The French nine played his part in increasing Toulon’s lead soon after. His deft chip from five metres out bounced kindly for centre Rabut to score for a converted try.
Just before half-time, Toulon prop Devaux crashed over for a third with Biggar making it 24-0 going at the interval.
Chances for Bath to get themselves back into the game were few. Ollie Lawrence drilled a kick into the corner, similar to the two in the first half, and Ben Spencer’s awareness presented Ojomoh and Butt space out wide, but the ball couldn’t quite stick to hand.
Francis’ aerial cross-kick was so nearly grasped by Cokanasiga and although de Glanville picked up the scraps, Toulon were first in at the breakdown to turnover possession. With that, the Top 14 raced downfield, led by Baptiste Serin and Parisse, though Bath’s scramble defence worked hard to prevent a score in the red zone.
Toulon did remain the Bath 22 though and when Parisse went out the back door to Rabut, the centre looped pass to wing Cordin and the France international finished smartly.
Despite the scoreline, Bath kept going; kept trying to punch, in search of their first score. It eventually came with nine minutes remaining. Doughty’s lobbed throw set the foundations for the hooker to manoeuvre his way to the line.
A small consolation for the effort from the Blue, Black and White against last season’s Challenge Cup finalists.