Scarlets deny Toulon bonus point

Champions Cup: Toulon were made to battle hard by Scarlets before starting their Champions Cup defence with a 28-18 victory at Stade Felix Mayol.

Tries from Matt Giteau, Maxime Mermoz and Steffon Armitage – whose hopes of a move to Bath fell through this week – gave Toulon a 12th successive win in Europe but they were denied a bonus point by a stubborn Scarlets display.

Two yellow cards for Rory Pitman and Emyr Phillips cost the visitors the chance of a losing bonus point but Toulon failed to punish the Welsh region with a poor display by their high standards.

Scarlets were reduced to 14 men after just six minutes when Pitman saw yellow for a high tackle on wing David Smith, allowing Leigh Halfpenny to kick the home side in front.

lThe Ospreys opened their Champions Cup campaign in emphatic fashion by posting a bonus point 42-7 victory over outclassed Liberty Stadium visitors Treviso.

Wales fly-half Dan Biggar ran the show, kicking 17 points and orchestrating Ospreys’ best attacking moments as full-back Dan Evans touched down twice, while wing Jeff Hassler, scrum-half Rhys Webb and number eight Dan Baker also scored tries.

Treviso wing Ludovico Nitoglia scored a late consolation try, converted by former Worcester and Wasps fly-half Joe Carlisle, but there was little for the Italians to cheer on another dismal European occasion for them.

It meant the unbeaten Guinness PRO12 leaders took early charge of Pool Five, teeing up nicely next Saturday’s clash against reigning Aviva Premiership champions Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens.

Saints will start as favourites – they beat Ospreys twice in last season’s Heineken Cup – but Biggar and company can head to the east midlands confident of making an impression.

The only worrying note on an otherwise routine afternoon was Wales autumn squad hopeful Baker being carried off midway through the second period after suffering what appeared to be a neck injury. There was a 10-minute stoppage while Baker received attention from medics.

lToulouse won a closely-fought Champions Cup encounter against Montpellier 30-23 at the Stade Ernest-Wallon yesterday.

Tries from Yohan Huget (two) and Jean-Marc Doussain helped to secure victory for Toulouse, who face Bath at the Recreation Ground next Saturday in their second match of the competition.

Toulouse led 13-10 lead at half-time. Iribaren was sin-binned 10 minutes into the second half for a professional foul but despite being down to 14 men Montpellier drove on for victory.

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