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Top 14: Toulon make successful start to title defence with 29-15 victory over Bayonne
Toulon made a successful start to the defence of their Top 14 title as they beat Bayonne 29-15 at the Stade Jean Dauger in Friday’s season curtain-raiser.
After ending their 22-year wait to lift the top-flight shield, Bernard Laporte’s men got their retention bid underway with a hard-fought victory in south west France.
Mathieu Bastareaud and David Smith scored the only tries of the match in the second half after the reigning European and French champions were held 12-12 at half time.
Australian fly-half Matt Giteau – facing the unenviable task of filling the void left by the retired Jonny Wilkinson – contributed 16 points from the tee as Toulon got off to a winning, albeit unglamourous, start.
With Bayonne struggling to make their mark on the game in the opening exchanges, Giteau fired the visitors into the lead and opened up a kicking duel with Bustos Moyano.
Argentine winger Moyano restored parity with his first penalty of the evening and went on to match Giteau as the sides entered the break level.
Bayonne struggled to deal with Toulon’s superior scrummaging ability following the restart and prop Gert Muller was yellow carded after a series of infringements early in the second period.
Full-back Delon Armitage slotted the penalty from range and Toulon made their personnel advantage pay, scoring both tries while Bayonne were reduced to 14 men.
The first came when uncompromising France centre Bastareaud crashed over after a beautifully-crafted play from pivot Giteau.
Bastareaud also played a key role in the second try, providing Toulon a solid platform at the breakdown alongside Steffon Armitage, before winger Smith displayed an excellent change of pace to touch down a loose kick.
Bayonne went down fighting but had little chance of stopping Toulon registering a fine opening salvo; a result which will catch the attention of their rivals given the array of international talent left out of the season opener.
Toulon were lucky to see out the second half with only three points conceded and a full complement of players on the field after a number of infringements were overlooked, but Laporte will cherish points away from home however they come.French League. Click here to bet.
|Friday 19th September|
|19:45||Brive vs Toulon|
|Saturday 20th September|
|13:45||Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse|
|17:30||Castres vs Oyonnax|
|17:30||Grenoble vs Bayonne|
|17:30||La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles|
|17:30||Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon|
|19:45||Montpellier vs Stade Francais|
|Saturday 27th September|
|16:00||Bayonne vs Toulouse|
|16:00||Brive vs Bordeaux-Begles|
|16:00||Toulon vs Montpellier|
|16:00||Stade Francais vs La Rochelle|
|16:00||Oyonnax vs Clermont Auvergne|
|16:00||Lyon vs Castres|
|16:00||Grenoble vs Racing Metro Paris|
|Saturday 4th October|
|15:00||Toulouse vs Stade Francais|
|15:00||Bayonne vs Montpellier|
|15:00||Bordeaux-Begles vs Clermont Auvergne|
|15:00||Castres vs Grenoble|
|15:00||La Rochelle vs Lyon|
|15:00||Oyonnax vs Toulon|
|15:00||Racing Metro Paris vs Brive|
|Saturday 11th October|
|16:00||Clermont Auvergne vs La Rochelle|
|16:00||Bordeaux-Begles vs Castres|
|16:00||Toulouse vs Toulon|
|16:00||Grenoble vs Brive|
|Sunday 14th September|
|Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 Montpellier|
|Saturday 13th September|
|Toulon 24 - 28 Stade Francais|
|Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont Auvergne|
|Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive|
|Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble|
|Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 Lyon|
|Friday 12th September|
|La Rochelle 41 - 16 Castres|
|Saturday 6th September|
|Toulon 18 - 13 Bordeaux-Begles|
|Stade Francais 34 - 29 Bayonne|
|Grenoble 30 - 12 La Rochelle|
|Lyon 26 - 23 Oyonnax|
|Clermont Auvergne 32 - 6 Racing Metro Paris|
|Brive 26 - 19 Toulouse|
|Friday 5th September|
|Montpellier 43 - 10 Castres|
|Saturday 30th August|
|Racing Metro Paris 17 - 10 Toulon|
|Grenoble 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles|
|Oyonnax 33 - 6 Stade Francais|
|Lyon 24 - 6 Brive|
|Castres 30 - 6 Bayonne|
|La Rochelle 37 - 25 Toulouse|
|Friday 29th August|
|Clermont Auvergne 20 - 21 Montpellier|
|Saturday 23rd August|
|Stade Francais 23 - 20 Lyon|
|Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax|
|Bordeaux-Begles 30 - 21 Racing Metro Paris|
|Toulon 60 - 19 La Rochelle|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com