European Champions Cup: Scarlets 22-21 Toulon

Leigh Halfpenny is dejected at Parc y Scarlets
Leigh Halfpenny is dejected at Parc y Scarlets
European Champions Cup: Scarlets v Toulon
Scarlets (16) 22
Tries: S Williams Con: Patchell Pens: Patchell 5
Toulon (9) 21
Pens: Halfpenny 7

Scarlets held on for a famous European Champions Cup victory over Toulon, whose Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny missed a last-minute penalty which would have won the game.

Scott Williams went over for the only try in the opening period and the hosts led 16-9 at the break.

Home fly-half Rhys Patchell kicked 17 points.

Halfpenny scored all of the visitors' points, but his late, long-range miss was one of four failed shots at goal.

In beating Toulon for the first time in four attempts, Scarlets kept their qualification hopes alive, albeit with Pool 3 leaders and defending champions Saracens beating Sale later in the day.

Toulon's losing bonus point ensured they stayed second behind champions Saracens with Scarlets third, two points behind the French club.

Scarlets v Toulon stats

The hosts dictated the pace for most of the opening period and were rewarded when the pressure on Toulon's defence earned Patchell the chance to open the scoring with a penalty.

Better followed as Wales centre Williams finished off a sweeping move, with Hadleigh Parkes twice involved before Aaron Shingler provided the scoring pass.

But with a 58%-42% advantage in possession, the hosts missed several chances.

Wings DTH van der Merwe and Steffan Evans went close from cross-kicks, and scrum-half Gareth Davies could not hold on to an offload as he crossed the line.

Patchell kicked three penalties to go with his conversion of the try, including punishing Toulon after a flare-up under the visitors' posts.

However, Halfpenny kicked three penalties in the opening period to keep Toulon in the game.

Hadleigh Parkes takes on Toulon
Scarlets centre Hadleigh Parkes takes on Toulon

Patchell and Halfpenny exchanged penalties early in the second half.

But just as Toulon's forward power began to take its toll, the indiscipline that had already been apparent struck again as replacement prop Florian Fresia was sin-binned for lifting Shingler's head at a maul.

Halfpenny made amends for his earlier misses to put Toulon within four points after an hour.

The visitors dominated the latter stages, but mirrored the hosts' failures when chances came their way.

Liam Williams takes off against Toulon
Liam Williams takes off against Toulon

It was left to Halfpenny, who former club Cardiff Blues want to re-sign, to reward their efforts.

But he was left furious with himself for one miss, and dejected as his final attempt drifted wide and fell short.

Visiting fly-half Pierre Bernard also fluffed a late drop-goal chance before the Welshman's final, futile effort.

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac told BBC Radio Wales:

"It's fantastic to see because in games like this, we don't get opportunities too often and to play the side with the experience and the history that Toulon have got in winning this competition.

"It's a special time and I am pleased for the players that have done all their hard work that they have got something out of it.

"It would have been pretty cruel if we had lost it at the death."

Scarlets: Liam Williams; DTH van der Merwe, Hadleigh Parkes, Scott Williams, Steff Evans; Rhys Patchell, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Ken Owens [c], Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Tadhg Beirne, Aaron Shingler, Will Boyde, John Barclay.

Replacements: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Werner Kruger, Lewis Rawlins, Josh Macleod, Jonathan Evans, Aled Thomas, Gareth Owen.

Toulon: Leigh Halfpenny; James O'Connor, Mathieu Bastareaud, Ma'a Nonu, Bryan Habana; Pierre Bernard, Jonathan Pelissie; Xavier Chiocci, Guilhem Guirado, Levan Chilachava, Mamuka Gorgodze, Romain Taofifenua, Charles Ollivon, Juandre Kruger, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacement: Jean-Charles Orioli, Florian Fresia, Marcel Van Der Merwe, Juan Fernandez Lobbe, Jocelino Suta, Maxime Mermoz, Eric Escande, Samu Manoa.

Referee: Matthew Carley (England)

Assistants: JP Doyle, Andrew Jackson (both England)

TMO: David Grashoff (England)

Citing commissioner: Tim Lowry (Ireland)

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