Billy Stickland/INPHO

As it happened: Toulon v Leinster, Champions Cup

We went minute-by-minute as two three-time champs went head-to-head in the south of France.

Listen, I know you’ve been getting in the festive spirit since early doors on Friday, but the weekend is still not over yet.

Rub the sleep out of your eyes and come with us, because there’s more great sport ahead this afternoon as Leinster aim to do the impossible; rescue their Champions Cup season by winning in Toulon.

Stay up to date with the game here, or watch it and tell us what you make of all the goings on on Facebook or on Twitter @Rugby_ie

Here’s how the sides will be lining up for this 3.15 (Irish time) kick-off.

Leinster’s centre partnership is good, but that Toulon pairing fairly packs a punch.


15. Delon Armitage; 14. Bryan Habana, 13. Mathieu Bastareaud, 12. Ma’a Nonu, 11. Drew Mitchell; 10. Matt Giteau, 9. Eric Escande;

1. Florian Fresia, 2. Guilhem Guirado, 3. Matt Stevens, 4. Samu Manoa, 5. Romain Taofifenua, 6. Mamuka Gorgodze, 7. Steffon Armitage, 8. Duane Vermeulen

Replacements: 16. Anthony Etrillard, 17. Xavier Chiocci, 18. Levan Chilachava, 19. Juan Smith, 20. Tom Taylor, 21. Maxime Mermoz, 22. Anthony Meric, 23. Jocelino Suta


15. Rob Kearney; 14. Fergus McFadden, 13. Ben Te’o, 12. Luke Fitzgerald, 11. Isa Nacewa; 10. Johnny Sexton, 9. Isaac Boss;

1. Cian Healy, 2. Richardt Strauss, 3. Mike Ross, 4. Devin Toner, 5. Mike McCarthy, 6. Rhys Ruddock, 7. Josh Van Der Flier, 8. Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: 16. Sean Cronin, 17. Jack McGrath, 18. Martin Moore, 19. Tom Denton, 20. Jordi Murphy, 21. Eoin Reddan, 22. Ian Madigan, 23. Dave Kearney

Here we go. Toulon and Leinster are on the pitch. The hosts would have preferred the track to be a littler drier, could that be something of a leveler for Leo Cullen’s men?

KICK-OFF: Sexton gets us under way, kickin to the 22. Toulon rumble in and Escande kicks to Kearney.

That gives Sexton the ball in hand again, but it’s a pig of a kick and it trickles out over the dead ball line. Scrum in midfield to Toulon.

Bim! Penalty comes for Cian Healy and Leinster. An important win after the error in the opening set of phases.

Sexton will kick for goal from halfway…

PENALTY! Toulon 0 Leinster 3 (Sexton ’3)

Leinster are positive with the ball even in their own half as McFadden breaks and offloads to Sexton on the right wing. The reward comes with another penalty, this time for holding on against Armitage after Sexton had gone to ground.

PENALTY! Toulon 0 Leinster 6 (Sexton ’5)

Ooomph! Leinster appear to have poked the bear slightly here, Toulon run back at them and make yards down the left before Mitchell goes back on a lateral run against the grain and bumps Sexton off like a stray tackle bag.

Leinster still trying to play out of their half, but Toulon shutting down the grubbers that come after they check inside.

Toulon win a penalty and pass up the chance at a kick at goal, they’re in the corner.

TRY! Toulon 7 Leinster 6 (S Armitage ’10)

When they go for the corner, they mean business this pack. The maul is ultra efficient and steams over the try-line with the English flanker coming up with the ball.

Escande adds the conversion.

Leinster doing just enough to contain Toulon at the minute, but the champs are giving the impression that they’re just warming up.

Mike McCarthy is caught offside and Escande has the chance to stretch the lead.

PENALTY!  Toulon 10 Leinster 6 ( Escande ’20)

Leinster need a big play, preferably a big score, soon or the next hour will be a long and painful one.

And there it comes, superb wide carry with a frenetic leg drive from Fergus McFadden. Toulon are tempted offside and Sexton can make this a one-point game again.

PENALTY! Toulon 10 Leinster 9 (Sexton ’24)

If you like mauls, you’ll love this Toulon try.

Stade Mayol crowd get their weekly chance to whistle their derision after Cian Healy took Guirado out when he was in an offside position. TMO check ahoy.

The TMO has called it a yellow card and Nigel Owens takes the advice.

SIN-BIN: Cian Healy (25 minutes)

Leinster do well to keep their linespeed up and disrupt the Toulon back-line, but there was a long-standing advantage from the opening phase.

Toulon go for the corner again, but the line-out isn’t so efficient this time, Toulon preferring to keep the ball in hands.

Superb D from Leo Cullen’s men. Rhys Ruddock gets a solid tackle in and with help from Fitzgerald, Leinster get their choke on and win a scrum in front of their own posts.

Here’s why Cian Healy’s in the bin. The knee doesn’t look deliberate, but there’s no need to clear Guirado out there.

Jack McGrath on while Healy’s in the bin and he gets involved in a bit of wrestling with Ma’a Nonu.

The sin-bin period going well so far. Two minutes remaining with 14 men.

Jack McGrath’s last act for this half is to steal a ball loosely tossed in the air. Cian Healy and Josh van der Flier come back on the field with the deficit no worse than they left i.

Another poorly executed kick from hand by Sexton when he had a chance to turn the hosts around and pin them in the corner. This scrum on halfway should see us to the interval.

Half-time: Toulon 10 Leinster 9

So Leinster have kept themselves in the game with three Sexton penalties, surviving a high error count and a Cian Healy sin-bin.

Toulon have showed flashes of what they’re capable of, but have been guilty of some very sloppy passages of their own.

Here comes the second half then, can either side get their act together in attack?

Excellent start to the period from Leinster’s pack, but Sexton’s penalty attempt lets Toulon off the hook. The strike skews way right and Sexton turns away disgusted.

SIN-BIN: Devin Toner (46 minutes)

Owens gives the big lock a lecture after playing advantage, the Welshman says he warned Toner in the first half.

Toulon one again refuse the option of three points and look to stretch Leinster.

Josh van der Flier leading a terrific defensive effort.

An exhausting set of phases, but Leinster keep their try-line in tact, disrupting ball after ball at the back of rucks and ultimately forcing Samu Manoa into a knock on out wide.

Penalty: Toulon 13 Leinster 9 (Escande ’50)

This time Toulon do take the easy option and Escande puts their first sin-bin points on the board.

PENALTY! Toulon 16 Leinster 9 (Escande ’53)

Toulon making sure to take advantage of Leinster’s ill discipline in this sin-bin period.

Seven points down and a lot of Leinster fans are starting to wonder where Ian Madigan is. Even with Sexton off form, do you back him to guide Leinster in from here?

Not long after Toner’s return, Leinster could have another man in trouble as there’s a flag pulled on Ben Te’o. His tackle looked legit enough on first viewing, but Giteau’s tumble drew a big roar from the crowd as he kicked down field.

The replay shows the tackle going in, not late, but he could have used his arms a little more. Owens sees the replay and declared ‘nothing in that’ and he’s spot on.

PENALTY! Toulon 19 Leinster 9 (Escande ’66)

That should do it.

A big Toulon scrum earns a penalty for Escande and he slots it beautifully. There are 13 minutes left here, but it’s very difficult to see how Leinster can stay in the tournament.

Another really harsh looking penalty against Leinster after Luke Fitzgerald looked like he had poached at a sloppy Toulon ruck. They’re back going for the corners.

Credit Leinster here. they’re heading out of Europe, they’ve known that well before today, but they are still digging deep and trying to thwart Toulon.

An excellent breakdown penalty won in front of their own posts and they can mount an attack from midfield.

About that attacking platform, Luke Fitz attempted to force the pass when Leinster went wide and it turns sour, trickling in to touch.

Sky Sport’s Mark Robson tells us it’s turnover number 7 for Toulon at that breakdown, Steffon Armitage getting the benefit of some real doubt from Owens.

With three and a half minutes to go, Ian Madigan is thrust into the Champions Cup in place of Luke Fitzgerald.

TRY! Toulon 24 Leinster 9 (S Armitage ‘ 79)

There’s the last hammer blow to Leinster’s interest in the Champions Cup this season. Steffon Armitage barges through a mess of bodies after a line-out and twists his body onto the line.

Giteau misses the kick, but it doesn’t matter one jot.

FULL-TIME! Toulon 24 Leinster 9

So two tries for Steffon Armitage caps a day when he trampled all over the tightrope of what’s lawful and unlawful at the breakdown.

The defending champions are off the mark in the pool now and their thoughts will turn to the Aviva Stadium next weekend and reeling in Wasps.

That’s all from this liveblog folks. We’ll be keeping an eye on Wasps v Bath at the Ricoh and probably re-watching Ulster and Connacht’s games to cheer us up a bit.

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