Toulon off the mark with Leinster win

Reigning champions Toulon gave themselves a European Champions Cup lifeline with a 24-9 win over Leinster on Sunday.

Having lost heavily 32-6 to Wasps in their opening Pool 5 clash, Toulon needed a win at home to keep themselves in the hunt against fellow three-time former winners Leinster, whose third defeat in a row now effectively all but ends their interest in the competition this year.

English flanker Steffon Armitage scored two tries as Toulon scrum-half Eric Escande kicked 14 points compared to just nine from the boot of Leinster fly-half Jonathan Sexton.

Having lost their opening two group matches, Leinster knew anything other than victory would be a disaster and they started in determined fashion with Sexton kicking over two penalties in the first five minutes.

Toulon were quick to respond, though, when Wallabies centre Matt Giteau chose to kick a penalty to the corner and the powerful French pack did the rest, winning their line-out and then driving Armitage over for a try that Escande converted.

But after Escande and Sexton exchanged penalties, Toulon could not make anything of a numerical advantage after Ireland prop Cian Healy was sin-binned, as a drab half of rugby ended 10-9 to the hosts.

Ireland lock Devin Toner was also yellow-carded early in the second period and this time Escande kicked two penalties to punish the ill-disciplined visitors.

There was still time for Escande to notch another penalty before Tom Denton stupidly picked up a third yellow card for Leinster with 30 seconds left.

Toulon kicked to the corner and Armitage drove through a ragged Irish defence for his second try.

Saracens continued their perfect start to the season with a thumping 45-10 defeat of French minnows Oyonnax.

The English champions maintained their stranglehold of Pool A with a bonus-point victory after scoring six tries that left them nine points clear of Ulster, who thrashed record four-time champions Toulouse 38-0 on Friday night and have a game in hand.

It was a ninth straight win in all competitions for Sarries who also lead the English Premiership after a perfect six from six start in domestic competition.

On Saturday, New Zealand legend Dan Carter made his Racing 92 debut as the French side brushed aside Northampton 33-3 in Pool 3.

French champions Stade Francais got their first win of the competition this season with a seven-try 50-17 romp away to Italian whipping boys Treviso.

Leicester are still in control of that Pool 4, though, after an impressive 31-19 victory at Munster maintained their perfect start in the competition.

Exeter produced the performance of the day, though, in beating last season’s finalists Clermont 31-14 in Pool 2.

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