Edinburgh achieved one of the greatest European results in their history by thumping the three times champions, Toulon.
Tries from Toolis, Pyrgos, McInally and Dean meant a bonus point victory for Edinburgh and propelled them to serious contenders to qualify from the pool, while Toulon’s chances are effectively over after a home defeat by Newcastle.
It only took 15 minutes for Edinburgh to get onto the scoreboard when Toolis placed the ball on the try line from literally a hands-width away. After a great run from WP Nel, breaking through the Toulon line, Edinburgh were in a strong attacking position. After Toulon conceded a penalty at the ensuing breakdown, quickly taken by Pyrgos, the ball was swept wide and only a couple of phases were needed for the score.
After a Van der Walt penalty to make it 10-0, Toulon responded. Malaki Fekitoa bust through the defence and an offload to Savea gave Toulon a chance of their first score. One phase from the Savea tackle later, saw the towering lock, Taofifenua, crash over to reduce the margin to three points. It looked like the galacticos were starting to find their mark.
However, it was on the 23rd-minute mark when Edinburgh pounced to score their second. Matt Scott, who has been in good form this season, cut a great line and exposed a mismatch in the defensive line to offload to the supporting Henry Pyrgos, who scored under the posts. Following the successful conversion, a further three penalties gave Edinburgh a commanding lead over Toulon going into the second half.
Could they hold on, or would the situation get to them?
Half-time: Edinburgh 26-7 Toulon
Edinburgh started the second half in ideal fashion by securing their third try of the afternoon. After a solid charge from Magnus Bradbury to give Edinburgh the necessary momentum, the excellent Darcy Graham capitalised on a retreating defence, hitting a great line to advance Edinburgh to the five-metre line. From that breakdown, quick hands from the front row resulted in a typical pirouette and try from captain McInally, with the following conversion making it 33-7 and making the home side look quite comfortable.
Although there was nearly a second try for Toulon quite soon after – if not for a remarkable Berghan tackle on Tuisova on the right wing – they eventually scored to break into double digits. After a Bastareaud turnover from what looked to be a promising attack by Edinburgh, he took a quick penalty and the ball found its way to Ikpefan on the left wing, who then showed his pace to run in from halfway.
Edinburgh finished the game off in style with a bonus point try just a minute after Toulon scored. Toulon, in an attempt to keep the ball in hand and get more scores on the board, played it deep in their own half which opened the door to Edinburgh’s aggressive pressing. A domino of poor offloads from Fekitoa to Trin Duc led to a Chris Dean intercept from a couple of metres out to finish off the game and secure the fifth point.
This was almost the perfect afternoon for Edinburgh: securing the win, a try bonus point and limiting Toulon to no points from the game. All in front of a bumper crowd.
However, Bradbury sustained a suspected dislocated shoulder which is a dampener for Edinburgh and Scotland fans ahead of November. The current Toulon side is a mere shadow of their former selves and are not nearly the force they once were – although they announced today the signing of Brian Alainu’uese from Glasgow – but this win was still a significant statement for Edinburgh in this competition.
Edinburgh, as a result, should firmly focus on aiming for first in the pool even with Newcastle and Montpellier to overcome.
Referee: JP Doyle
SRBlog Man of the Match: Bill Mata. Following up from last week, his carries and offloads encapsulated what Edinburgh wanted to do against this Toulon side and the Olympic medal winner is proving to be a very good player at this level.