Newcastle set for first Champions Cup tie in 14 years

Joel Hodgson (right) scored 14 points for the visitors
Heineken Champions Cup
Toulon (15) 25
Tries: Taofifenua, Lakafia, Guirado Cons: Trinh-Duc 2 Pens: Trinh-Duc 2
Newcastle (16) 26
Tries: Cooper, penalty try Cons: Hodgson Pens: Hodgson 4

The Premiership’s bottom side Newcastle withstood severe late pressure from three-time Champions Cup winners Toulon to record a memorable 26-25 victory at the Stade Mayol.

The Falcons, with only one win in the domestic league this season, were a try down in 23 seconds but fought back to lead 16-15 at the break.

With five minutes left Toulon won a penalty but opted for the line-out.

They failed to make the most of the play and Newcastle held on for the win.

It meant the North East side, back among Europe’s elite after 13 seasons, became only the second team, after Saracens, to win at Toulon in European competition.

As for Patrice Collazo’s side, this defeat is another bitter blow in a season in which they have only two wins from their first seven games in the French Top 14.

Toulon had the upper hand inside a minute when lock Romain Taofifenua charged down Micky Young’s attempted clearance before picking up the loose ball to cross over.

A penalty from fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc, who scored 10 points, gave the home side a 10-0 advantage before a penalty and a try from Kyle Cooper saw Newcastle level.

Toulon make costly decision

Falcons fly-half Joel Hodgson was confident with his kicking at the Stade Mayol and added two more penalties which gave his side a 16-10 lead. But two minutes before the interval, French No.8 Raphael Lakafia crossed over although, crucially for the visitors, Trinh-Duc, missed the conversion.

There were four yellow cards during the match, with three in the second half. The first was shown to Toulouse full-back Daniel Ikpefan who caught Sinoti Sinoti with a high-tackle two metres from the tryline which resulted in the award of a penalty try to Newcastle.

It was soon 14 v 14 when Hodgson was also sin-binned, for a deliberate knock-on. Toulon pounced, as Newcastle regrouped, through French hooker Guilhem Guirado, who powered over from a maul.

Newcastle’s 23-22 lead became 25-23 when Trinh-Duc kicked over a penalty. But just as the home side had the wind in their sails, New Zealand wing Julian Savea was shown yellow.

Moments later, Falcons made the most of their man-advantage as Hodgson, who had returned from his 10 minutes in the sin-bin, converted another penalty.

Toulon were handed one more chance to dig themselves out of trouble when they won another penalty within kicking distance. However, instead of going for the posts they elected for a five-metre line-out which failed to result in a try.

‘A lot of my players didn’t have any Champions Cup experience’

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards: “The boys threw everything at them and they threw everything us – thankfully we came through and I think we got the result we deserved.

“I thought our tactics were outstanding, and on the day we got it right.

“All the boys played well. There were a lot out there who lacked any Champions Cup experience, although it didn’t seem like it.”

Toulon coach Patrice Collazo: “The decision at end of the match comes from me because we were playing well and pressing and we need confidence – it would have done us good.

“Today we can say it’s the fault of Collazo.”

Toulon: Ikpefan, Tuisova, Pietersen, Belleau, Savea, Trinh-Duc, Escande, Gros, Guirado, Van Der Merwe, Rebbadj, Taofifenua, Monribot, Mbarga, Lakafia (c)

Replacements: Etrillard, Chiocci, Taofifenua, Potgieter, Fekitoa, Bonneval, Meric, Vanverberghe

Newcastle: Tait, Arscott, Penny, Williams, Sinoti, Hodgson, Young, Mavinga, Cooper, Wilson, Witty, Young, Wilson (c), Graham, Nagusa.

Replacements: McGuigan, Brocklebank, Mulipola, Burrows, Chick, Takulua, Connon, Bettencourt

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