business trip

Toulon kick-started their season for real with an emphatic trouncing of Clermont (in Clermont)

Stade Michelin is used to thrashings going the way of the home team.

IT TOOK A bit of time for the great hulking machine that is Toulon to crank in to gear this season.

Going in to this weekend, the treble European champs had won four and lost four domestic fixtures this season, and they lost their opening European outing away to Wasps.

And because of the way French teams seem to really dig deep for a performance on home turf, it looked likely that the balance would be tipped against them further by Saturday’s visit to Top14 leaders Clermont Auvergne.

TOP 14 - Officiel / YouTube

Instead, Bernard Laporte’s boys turned Clermont’s season on its head (again) with an incredible performance, powered by a back row of Mamuka Gorgodze, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and Duane Vermeulen.

Returning Wallabies Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell –who ran in the late bonus-point try thanks to a brilliant turnover by Steffon Armitage while Toulon were down to 14 men — helped to open up the 9 – 35 chasm that was left between last year’s European finalists.

Paul O’Connell’s future team-mates face Agen next Saturday, before hosting a Champions Cup clash with Leinster on 13 December.

Carter dreams of emulating Wilkinson at Racing 92

Watch Connacht make history at Thomond Park in the weekend’s Pro12 highlights

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