Champions Shocked by Cardiff

Champions Shocked by Cardiff

Reigning Heineken Cup champions Toulon suffered a surprise 19-15 defeat to Cardiff Blues on Saturday at Arms Park.

Gareth Davies crossed the line for the home side with a late try to seal the memorable victory and a resounding upset.

The replacement scored the only try of the game with just three minutes to spare; helping his side to their first victory of the campaign this year after a 44-29 thrashing to the hands of Exeter in the first round.

Toulon captain Jonny Wilkinson looked to have sealed the game with his 15 points in terrible conditions in South Wales, only to be halted by Davies’s late try.

Wilkinson and Leigh Halfpenny locked horns throughout the game, constantly exchanging penalties.
Wilkinson scored two in the first half, matched by a Halfpenny penalty and one from Rhys Patchell to leave the scores level at the break.

Wilkinson led the penalty count three to two in the second half, until Davies crossed the line for the win.
After conceding five tries in the first half against Exeter, Cardiff needed to respond with an improved performance. However, few would have expected, perhaps even coach Phil Davies, that Cardiff would overcome the big-budget, star-studded Toulon side.

Cardiff suffered an early pre-game setback as hooker and Captain, Matthew Rees, was ruled out of the game due to illness. Former Toulon prop Gethin Jenkins took over the role as skipper.

The home side did open the scoring through a difficult Patchell penalty.

Appalling conditions made handling incredibly difficult throughout the game, but the boot of Jonny Wilkinson was ever reliable, as he levelled the scores 3-3.

Wilkinson then put his side into the lead with a second penalty, after Filo Paula dumped hooker jean-Charles Orioli to the floor without the ball.

As the rain continued to hammer around Cardiff Arms Park chances to score were few and far between, but Lion Halfpenny managed to dissect the posts in his second attempt of the game to level the scores 6-6 at the break.

Over the course of the half time interval, the French side made a statement of intent as they completely changed the whole of their front row.

Wilkinson added to his tally, and put Toulon ahead early in the second period. After an uncharacteristic miss, the World Cup winner added a further three points just minutes later, taking the visitors lead to 6 points.

After a shocking clearance kick by Delon Armitage, Cardiff found themselves with a platform to attack from for the first time in the second stanza.

The Blues were awarded a penalty after Emmanuel Felsina was penalised for pushing the scrum upwards, and Halfpenny nailed the resulting penalty before adding another just minutes later to level the scores.

Toulon still looked the stronger side and were held out by the Cardiff defence. However, the penalty did come, which Wilkinson duly made the most of to give his side a slender lead going into the final 5 minutes.

The home side managed to kick into gear and forced their way deep into the Toulon half. The Blues had a penalty on the visitor’s 22, and then hurled the ball out wide to centre Cory Allen, who weaved his way to five metres from the line.

The match clock was still running down until replacement Davies managed to burrow his way over the line and in between the posts to record a memorable victory.

Champions Toulon will be look to get over the shock of a loss in the Heineken Cup when they face Exeter on the 7th of December in the third round.


Cardiff Blues: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Owen Williams, Cory Allen, Harry Robinson; Rhys Patchell, Lloyd Williams; Gethin Jenkins (capt), Marc Breeze, Scott Andrews, Bradley Davies, Filo Paulo, Josh Navidi, Sam Warburton, Robin Copeland.

Replacements: Richard Smith for Cuthbert (41), Gareth Davies for Patchell (72), Benoit Bourrust for Andrews (59), Lou Reed for Paulo (75).

Not Used: Kristian Dacey, Sam Hobbs, Rory Watts-Jones, Lewis Jones.

Toulon squad: Delon Armitage; Josua Tuisova, Maxime Mermoz, Matthew Giteau, Rudi Wulf; Jonny Wilkinson (capt), Frederic Michalak; Xavier Chiocci, Jean-Charles Orioli, Martin Castrogiovanni, Bakkies Botha, Ali Williams, Juan Fernandez Lobbe, Steffon Armitage, Chris Masoe.

Replacements: Benjamin Noirot for Chiocci (41), Emmanuel Felsina for Orioli (41), Carl Hayman for Castrogiovanni (41), Jocelino Suta for Botha (46), Juan Smith for S Armitage (69).

Not Used: Bruni, Mitchell, Palisson.