Toulon secure home quarter-final
January 18, 2014
The boot of Wilkinson saw Toulon over the line © Getty Images
Toulon overcame horrid conditions and a dogged Glasgow side to secure a home quarter-final with a 15-9 win at Scotstoun.
Expansive rugby was next to impossible given the conditions and it was no surprise that the game was limited to just a kick from Ruaridh Jackson and two from Jonny Wilkinson in the first half. The boot of England's 2003 World Cup hero stretched Toulon's lead further after the interval, but Glasgow were given hope on 63 minutes when Chris Fusaro reacted quickest to pounce on a loose ball to bring it back to 15-8.
The home side applied heavy pressure in the closing stages but some impervious Toulon defence kept them at bay as the reigning European champions secured a valuable home tie.
Exeter Chiefs ended their Heineken Cup campaign on a high after edging out Cardiff Blues 19-13 at Arms Park.
An early Don Armand try, followed by the conversion and two penalties from Gareth Steenson, put Exeter 13-0 to the good after 23 minutes but Cardiff battled back. Leigh Halfpenny shrugged off any distraction from his increasingly likely move to Toulon as he knocked over a penalty before Alex Cuthbert galloped over following great interplay on the counter attack as Cardiff narrowed the gap to one point.
Halfpenny found the target from the kicking tee again on 53 minutes to bring the scores level, but Steenson reacted with a penalty of his own moments later to re-establish the lead for Exeter, before knocking one over a minute from time to secure a win for the visiting side.
Alex Cuthbert attempts to fend off Fetu'u Vainikolo © Getty Images
Toulouse ensured they qualified for the Heineken Cup quarter finals as winners of Pool 3 with a narrow 16-6 victory over Zebre in Parma.
Jean-Marc Doussain and Zebre's Luciano Orquera exchanged penalties in a cagey opening half hour which was limited in scoring opportunities. The home side were holding their own but two yellow cards in quick succession would be their undoing as flankers Dries van Schalkwyk and then Mauro Bergamasco were sent to the bin.
Toulouse capitalised fully and within three minutes of Bergamasco's card had crossed for the game's only try, taking advantage of the numerical advantage to put scrum-half Sebastien Bezy through under the posts. Doussian nailed the conversion and Toulouse led 10-3 at half-time, but an Orquera penalty after the break narrowed the lead to four points.
But any hopes of an upset were dashed after the hour-mark as Bezy and then Doussain found target with penalties of their own to give them the win and top spot in the pool - though their inability to earn a bonus point opens the door for Munster to secure a home quarter final.
At Stade Yves-du-Manoir Montpellier eased to a 24-6 victory over Zebre with tries from Rene Ranger, Mamuka Gorgodze, Lucas Dupont and Pierre Berard to end their European campaign with a bonus-point win.
A battered and bruised Yann David makes in-roads for Toulouse © Getty Images
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