European Champions Cup: Sale Sharks 5-15 Toulon

Leigh Halfpenny
Full-back Leigh Halfpenny scored 10 of Toulon's points
Sale Sharks (5) 5
Tries: Odogwu
Toulon (15) 15
Tries: Ollivon, Halfpenny Cons: Halfpenny Pens: Halfpenny

Sale fell to their second defeat in two games in Pool 3 as Toulon returned to winning ways in the Champions Cup.

Magnus Lund was shown a yellow card after five minutes and the French visitors took advantage with tries from Charles Ollivon and Leigh Halfpenny.

Sale hit back with a try from Paolo Odogwu and passed up three kicks at goal after the break as Toulon held on.

Sale, who lost to Scarlets last week, face English champions Saracens in their next European tie on 10 December.

Toulon, who lost at home against Saracens last week, host Scarlets a day later.

Before the game, Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond likened Toulon, who have won the Champions Cup in three of the last four seasons, to Spanish football giants Barcelona.

And Sale looked likely to be blown away when the illustrious visitors swept into a 15-0 lead after only 11 minutes.

Flanker Lund was penalised, somewhat harshly, for a late tackle and Toulon soon took advantage of their numerical advantage, Ollivon spotting a defensive hole and scrambling over.

When Sale wing Byron McGuigan failed to deal with a cross-kick from Francois Trinh-Duc, Bryan Habana seized on the loose ball and fed Halfpenny, who surged over for his side's second try.

But Sale rallied, Odogwu scampering over in the corner while Toulon captain Duane Vermeulen was in the sin bin for a deliberate trip.

Sale started the second half in confident fashion and would have been within striking distance if Will Addison had kicked a relatively straightforward penalty, but he struck an upright.

Addison kicked to the corner on three occasions as the clock ticked down, but the hosts came away with nothing.

It was a strangely muted display by Toulon, who barely threatened the Sale try-line in the second half, while Sale will be disappointed they did not earn a losing bonus point at least.

Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond: "We stood toe to toe with them but didn't have enough bullets in the gun.

"We had field position in the last 20 minutes but, fair play to them, they counteracted our drive. But there were a lot of young English lads out there who stood their corner.

"The referee had a good game, we can't whinge and moan about [Lund's yellow card]."

Sale Sharks: Michael Haley; Byron McGuigan, Will Addison, Mark Jennings, Paulo Odogwu; Sam James, Peter Stringer; Ross Harrison, Neil Briggs, Brian Mujati, Bryn Evans, Andrei Ostrikov, Cameron Neild, Magnus Lund, Josh Beaumont

Replacements: Eifion Lewis-Roberts, Halani Aulika, Jon Mills, David Seymour, Thomas Curry, James Mitchell, Daniel Mugford, Sam Bedlow

Toulon: Leigh Halfpenny; James O'Connor, Mathieu Bastareaud, Ma'a Nonu, Bryan Habana; Francois Trinh-Duc, Eric Escande; Xavier Chiocci, Guilhem Guirado, Levan Chilachava, Mamuka Gorgodze, Romain Taofifenua, Charles Ollivon, Juan Fernandez Lobbe, Duane Vermeulen

Replacements: Anthony Etrillard, Laurent Delboulbes, Marcel van der Merwe, Samu Manoa, Matt Carraro, Pierre Bernard, Sebastien Tillous-Borde, Jocelino Suta