Heineken Cup: Toulon qualify for last eight after fifth straight win
Last Updated: 12/01/13 8:00pm
Maxime Mermoz: scored the bonus-point try
Toulon crushed Cardiff Blues 45-25 in Heineken Cup Pool 6, running in seven tries at Stade Mayol to clinch a quarter-final berth.
The Blues made a bright start and surged into a surprise 8-0 lead thanks to Leigh Halfpenny's early try.
But Toulon fought back and ran riot with tries through Rudi Wulf, Xavier Chiocci, Jean-Charles Orioli, Maxi Mermoz, Alexis Palisson, Mathieu Bastareaud and Florian Fresia.
Halfpenny opened the scoring after less than a minute as Pierrick Gunther was penalised for failing to release and the Blues stretched their lead to eight points midway through the half as the full-back scampered into the corner.
Sam Warburton flung the ball out from a retreating scrum but Owen Williams hit a sublime line off Jamie Roberts to slice through the defence. He evaded Palisson before drawing Mermoz to put Halfpenny away.
But Toulon instantly responded, winning the ball from the restart as Chris Masoe bounced away Roberts and the ball was recycled for Wilkinson to send Wulf over the whitewash.
Wilkinson slotted the conversion and within minutes Toulon surged in front. After opting to kick to the corner they launched a rolling maul, Cardiff initially held them at bay but following several forward drives, Chiocci burrowed over.
Toulon were relentless in their assault and following another forwards' charge the ball was spread blind for Orioli to dive over.
It took Toulon just four minutes of the second half to clinch the bonus point as the ball was spread through the hands and Delon Armitage threaded through a grubber kick that Mermoz collected to score.
Bastareaud offloaded to Palisson, who danced past Halfpenny to score Toulon's fifth and Bastareaud was next to cross the whitewash after bulldozing over following a neat switch with Wulf.
Steffon Armitage then made the initial inroads for Fresia to power over for number seven.
To their credit the Blues continued to battle and a break from Williams laid the platform for Cuthbert to squeeze into the corner, before further tries from Hewitt and Halfpenny earned the visitors a bonus point of their own.