European Rugby Champions Cup 2014-15

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European Rugby Champions Cup
Toulon muscle past Ulster
ESPN Staff
October 25, 2014
Report Match details
Date/Time: Oct 25, 2014, 13:00 local, 12:00 GMT
Venue: Ravenhill, Belfast
Ulster 13 - 23 Toulon
Half-time: 3 - 16
Tries: Gilroy
Cons: Jackson
Pens: Jackson 2
Tries: DA Armitage, Habana
Cons: Halfpenny 2
Pens: Halfpenny 3
Toulon's South African flanker Juan Smith goes on the rampage against Ulster. Ulster v Toulon, European Champions Cup, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast, October 25, 2014.
Juan Smith was superb from the bench for Toulon
© Getty Images
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Toulon made it two from two in the European Rugby Champions Cup thanks to a 23-13 win over Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday.

Bryan Habana's try on the stroke of half-time - which gave the visitors a 16-13 half-time lead - and then an interception score in the 58th minute from Delon Armitage saw Toulon home, with huge performances also from Steffon Armitage and Juan Smith. Leigh Halfpenny also contributed, with three penalties and two conversions. The hosts landed two penalties from Paddy Jackson, who also converted Craig Gilroy's late consolation try, but defeat left Ulster's bid to make the last eight looking effectively over.

The French side had the first scoring opportunity after two minutes, but Halfpenny's monster wind-assisted penalty from inside his own half - which came just after Juan Fernandez Lobbe left the action with a leg injury to be replaced by Juan - drifted wide. He was on target seven minutes later, though, after Ulster were penalised at a scrum following a Toulon break deep in their own territory which had seen Gilroy kick for touch on the full without realising he had run the ball into his own 22.

This became 6-0 on 13 minutes when Halfpenny nailed his second penalty after Ulster were penalised for not releasing, but Ulster hit back on 20 minutes with Jackson's first shot at goal after Louis Ludik was illegally wrapped up in a tackle. Ulster then began to exert some territorial squeeze on the European champions, who then lost fly-half Matt Giteau to a leg injury after he had cleared from near his own line and James O'Connor replaced him.

Then just after the half-hour, Toulon moved a ball wide at pace from a lineout and Halfpenny put Delon Armitage clear to dive over in the right corner, only for the final pass to be called forward. Halfpenny made it 9-3 with two minutes of the half remaining after Ulster's scrum again fell foul of referee Wayne Barnes, but the killer blow then came right at the end of the half when Habana scorched over in the same corner as Armitage's earlier disallowed effort.

The TMO was consulted but awarded the try which came after Toulon had injected pace into a sweeping move which went left and right. Halfpenny nailed a brilliant conversion and the half ended with the visitors leading 16-3. Ulster needed to score first after the sides resumed and Jackson did the necessary on 44 minutes after Delon Armitage's high hit on Stuart Olding to narrow the gap to 10 points.

Halfpenny was then wide with a 51st-minute penalty into the wind and then four minutes later Jackson did the same, before Ulster's inaccuracy coughed up the game's decisive score which saw Delon Armitage intercept a Nick Williams pass and run most of the length of the field to dot down under the sticks. Halfpenny's conversion of the 58th-minute try made it 23-6 to the French side, which effectively sealed the result. However, Ulster refused to wilt and, with three minutes remaining, Gilroy swept in for a consolation score after O'Connor had missed touch and Tommy Bowe and Jared Payne had countered.

Jackson drop-kicked the conversion to narrow the visitors' lead to 23-13 and they saw out the remaining minute without Habana, who was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on. All that remained was Ian Humphreys' penalty shot from halfway for a losing bonus, but it fell short.

Ulster's Chris Henry is on the wrong end of a hit from Juan Smith © Getty Images
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