|European Champions Cup Pool 5|
|Bath (23) 26|
|Tries: Obano, Watson 2 Cons: Priestland Pens: Priestland 3|
|Toulon (13) 21|
|Tries: Mathewson, Manoa Cons: Trinh-Duc Pens: Trinh-Duc 3|
Bath avenged last weekend’s agonising defeat in France with victory over Toulon at the Recreation Ground to move top of their Champions Cup pool.
The hosts scored after 44 seconds through Beno Obano, but Alby Mathewson crossed for Toulon before two tries from Anthony Watson saw the hosts take a 10-point half-time lead.
Samu Manoa scored two minutes after the break but Bath held on.
Toulon picked up a losing bonus point but fall to second place in Pool 5.
Bath suffered an last-gasp 24-20 defeat at the Stade Mayol last weekend after a 77th-minute try from replacement fly-half Anthony Belleau.
But a week later, roared on by their home crowd, they held their nerve to end Toulon’s unbeaten run in this season’s competition.
And Todd Blackadder’s side are now in a good position to gain automatic qualification for the quarter-finals as they lead three-time Champions Toulon on points difference with two rounds remaining.
They face a home tie against Scarlets, who moved back into contention with a second victory over Benetton, before a trip to bottom-side Benetton.
Bath back with a bang
Bath were once again dominant in the first period as wing Aled Brew, after a brilliant performance in France, bulldozed through two Toulon defenders to set up Obano after just 44 seconds.
Rhys Priestland slotted two penalties to make it 13-0 after 13 minutes but for all their errors in defence, Toulon got a foothold in the game through Alby Mathewson.
The scrum-half darted past Max Lahiff from behind the line-out, although the Bath prop looked to have been held-back in a piece of cynical play by Florian Fresia.
But the English side wrestled the game back to restore a healthy lead at the the break courtesy of the scintillating pace of full-back Watson.
The England international first stepped back inside to dart through visitors’ defence before a change of pace on the left wing saw a tired Toulon defence breached once again with the clock on red.
But Toulon came out roaring after the break and Ma’a Nonu showed his class as he broke through the middle as Manoa finished off just three minutes into the second half.
As Bath struggled to control the tempo, South African flanker Francois Louw came up with a vital turnover on his own line and was commanding throughout in the absence of injured Wales international Taulupe Faletau.
The hosts could have added the bonus-point score through replacement Wilson, but referee Nigel Owens, in conference with the referee, gave a forward pass by number eight Paul Grant in the build-up.
With 10 minutes to play at the Stade Mayol last weekend, Bath lead by six points – and it was a similar scenario on Saturday as the visitors looked to steal another victory.
Toulon fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc missed a penalty with 10 minutes remaining, before his counterpart Rhys Priestland also hit one wide to deny the visitors a losing-bonus point.
Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder: “We really wanted to come out of the blocks from the start today, and we showed that.
“The first 20 minutes, we played superb rugby – it was everything we hoped for, really. Everyone just worked so hard.
“It is a massive mindset shift for us. It was more than a win, it was a psychological win. We are a really good team, and we will grow from this. There is more to come.”
|CHAMPIONS CUP POOL 5|
Bath: Watson; Brew, Joseph, Tapuai; Banahan; Priestland, Cook; Obano, Dunn, Lahiff, Stooke, Ewels, Garvey, Louw, Grant
Replacements: Van Vuuren, Auterac, Thomas, Douglas, Mercer, Fotuali’i, Burns, Wilson
Toulonnaise: Bonneval; Tuisova, Bastareaud, Nonu, Ashton; Trinh-Duc, Mathewson; Fresia, Guirado, Van Der Merwe, Manoa, Taofifenua, Lobbe, Isa, Vermeulen
Replacements: Etrillard, Delboulbes, Setiano, Lakafia, Pietersen, Rebbadj, Escande, Kruger
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