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Heineken Cup: Toulon join Ulster and Quins in the 1/4 finals while Biarritz fight on

Dimitri Yachvilli and his buddies may yet rue that late conversion miss in Galway.

Jonny Wilkinson slots over a conversion.
Jonny Wilkinson slots over a conversion.
Image: Dave Thompson/PA Wire.

FRENCH GIANTS TOULON joined Ulster and Harlequins in the quarter-finals of the European Cup after a convincing win over Cardiff Blues at the Stade Felix Mayol.

Toulon routed the Welsh side 45-25, three late tries from the Blues giving the scoreline a much more flattering hue than it merited.

Cardiff opened the scoring with a penalty from Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny, who was then on hand to round off a midfield move that saw Gavin Evans glide past a stationary Mathieu Bastareaud.

But Toulon fired back with quickfire tries from Kiwi winger Rudi Wulf and prop Xavier Chiocci, both converted by Jonny Wilkinson.

Hooker Jean-Charles Orioli was played in by Frederic Michalak and Chris Masoe for Toulon’s third try just before half-time, France centre Maxime Mermoz and winger Alexis Palisson bagging a swift brace after the restart to put the game out of the Blues’ reach.

With the Welsh defence in disarray, prop Florian Fresia also crossed for the home side before Wales winger Alex Cuthbert, replacement Gareth Davies and Halfpenny scored three consolation tries as Toulon took their foot off the pedal.

The comprehensive win comes at the end of a week that saw South African winger Bryan Habana announce he would be joining Toulon from Super Rugby’s Stormers next season.

Biarritz battle on

Biarritz Olympique were heavy favourites to progress to the knock-out stages when the draw for the pools were made last year but getting just four points from two matches against Connacht cost them dearly.

They have kept their interest alive in the competition after defeating Zebre 32-6 in Italy this afternoon.

The two-time Heineken Cup finalists were 13-0 up after 11 minutes before Luciano Orquera tagged them back with two penalties.

A Marcelo Bosch try before half-time made it 20-6 and ensured Biarritz were halfway towards securing a bonus point win.

Bosch added a second after 56 minutes but the visitors had to wait until the 75th minute before Seremaïa Burotu pounced for a late score and the bonus point was secured.

Harlequins visit the south of France next weekend so the task for Biarritz remains a daunting one.

*Additional reporting © AFP, 2012

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