Bath 26-21 Toulon: Away defeat avenged as Bath top Champions Cup pool
Last Updated: 17/12/17 7:17am
Bath moved to the top of Champions Cup Pool 5 with a superb performance as they defeated Toulon 26-21 at The Rec.
The Premiership side suffered a heartbreaking 24-20 reverse in Toulon last week after conceding a late try, but they avenged that loss with a resolute display to blow the pool wide open.
An early try from Beno Obano and an impressive first-half double from Anthony Watson provided the platform for Bath's victory and they then held off a strong rally from the three-time European champions, who replied with tries from Alby Mathewson and Samu Manoa.
The win put Bath level on 13 points with Toulon, who picked up a losing bonus point, but they top the group by virtue of their one-point superior head-to-head record, with Scarlets just behind in third spot with 12 points following their earlier win over Benetton in Italy.
Bath, clearly still smarting from their defeat in France last Saturday, made a storming start with a try in the first minute from prop Obano, who crashed over following a break by Aled Brew.
Rhys Priestland added the conversion and extended the lead to 13-0 by landing penalties in the 10th and 13th minutes.
Chris Ashton and Francois Trinh-Duc messed up a chance to put Toulon back in the game following early Bath dominance, but Mathewson did get the visitors on the scoreboard in the 18th minute after attacking the blindside from a lineout.
Trinh-Duc added the conversion and also booted over a penalty shortly after Bath had been denied a second try through Matt Garvey as Matt Banahan had just stepped into touch.
Bath did cross for a second time in the 28th minute with Watson racing over following good work by Brew and Jonathan Joseph.
Trinh-Duc's penalty made it 18-13, but the hosts went into the break firmly in command through a brilliant effort from Watson on the stroke of half-time, the full-back showing superb pace in an arcing run which left three defenders standing.
Priestland failed to convert for the second time and Toulon were back within five points two minutes after the restart after they returned to the field with renewed vigour.
Ma'a Nonu broke and fed Ashton who ran a great line before finding Guihem Guirado, who passed on to lock Manoa and he stretched over for a try which Trinh-Duc failed to convert.
Toulon continued to press but were unable to breach the Bath defence again and Priestland's 56th-minute penalty was some reward for a period of pressure from the hosts.
Bath then thought they had a fourth try and a bonus point after Jack Wilson raced clear down the right, but it was ruled out for a forward pass following a lengthy review.
Toulon moved back within five points with 15 minutes remaining when they opted to take the three points with a third penalty from Trinh-Duc, although the fly-half dragged another effort wide five minutes later.
Priestland was also off target with a 73rd-minute penalty attempt which would have denied Toulon their losing bonus point, but the Bath defence held firm this time in a frantic finale.