Heineken Cup Pool 2: Last-gasp Gareth Davies try clinches victory for Cardiff Blues over Toulon
By Ben Hampshire - Follow me: @BH92. Last Updated: 20/10/13 7:07am
A late try from Gareth Davies handed Cardiff Blues a stunning 19-15 win over the defending champions Toulon.
A last-gasp try from Gareth Davies handed Cardiff Blues a stunning 19-15 victory over defending champions Toulon at Arms Park.
After a hefty defeat at the hands of Exeter Chiefs in the opening round of fixtures, Cardiff bounced back to sink the big-spending French outfit on home soil.
Neither side came out on top in a first half dominated by kicking exchanges as Rhys Patchell and Leigh Halfpenny successfully kicked for the Blues while Jonny Wilkinson booted two from two as the sides went in level at 6-6.
Battles between the kickers continued after the break and Toulon held the advantage going into the closing minutes before Davies completed a fine move to score the first and only try of the match and clinch victory for the Welsh region.
The Blues, ironically sporting pink jerseys, enjoyed the brighter start as Patchell slotted home an early penalty as the defending champions struggled to settle on the artificial pitch in South Wales.
Toulon found their stride midway through the first period when 19-year-old Josua Tuisova crossed the line after a fantastic kick-and-chase combination with Steffon Armitage, only to be denied by the Television Match Official, who adjudged than an earlier offload went forward.
Wilkinson levelled the scores from the tee before Patchell's ambitious drop-goal attempt at the other end of the field sailed wide of the posts as Cardiff continued to pressurise the Toulon defence.
The visitors took the lead in the 28th minute when Wilkinson doubled his tally after the Blues conceded a third penalty at the breakdown.
Halfpenny, having squandered one opportunity to even the tie, took his Heineken Cup points tally to 190 and restored parity on the cusp of half-time with a 38-metre penalty to make it 6-6 on the scoreboard.
Toulon - who highlighted their strength in depth by making three front row changes at half-time - regained the advantage shortly after the restart as Wilkinson dissected the uprights for a third time.
Wilkinson's fourth attempt on goal was taken away to the left as windy conditions took their toll but the 91-cap England international was soon back on target as Toulon's lead was extended to six.
As the sun started to brighten a previously gloomy Arms Park, Halfpenny drew the Blues within three with e his second penalty of the afternoon when Emmanuel Felsina was penalised for an infringement at the breakdown.
Phil Davies' men continued to resist the Toulon attack and benefitted from some luck when Wilkinson's 51-metre effort fell just short of the posts before Patchell surrendered a chance to level the scores at the opposite end of the field.
Halfpenny brought the match level at 12-12 with a precision kick from the left touchline to set up a tense finale with just 10 minutes left on the clock.
Toulon slipped back in front via the boot of Wilkinson in the 72nd minute after Tuisova - who looked dangerous throughout - drew a late tackle from Halfpenny just metres from the line.
The game's first try came with just two minutes left on the clock as replacement Davies scored for the first time in his career after a superb break by 20-year-old Cory Allen - who debuted for the Blues last weekend - to steal a last-gasp victory against the European champions.