A yellow card broke the deadlock as Lyon beat Toulon 30-12 to lift the European Challenge Cup and allow Pierre Mignoni to sign off as head coach with deserved silverware before he takes over at their opponents in Marseille.
Toulon were reduced to 14 in the 46th minute when fullback Aymeric Luc was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on to stop a scoring pass going to hand. A penalty try was inevitable. Three minutes later Lyon centre Pierre-Louis Barassi chased down Leo Berdeu’s kick ahead following a break from Josua Tuisova.
Earlier, half a foot threatened to cost the newly crowned champions in a fast-and-furious match. Lyon - five years after winning promotion to the Top 14 - were the better side, but no one was ready to die wondering in front of a tournament-record crowd of 51,431.
Mignoni’s side were 10-7 ahead at the end of a frenetic first half when Baptiste Couilloud, in a personal battle for the eye of France coach Fabien Galthie with Toulon rival Baptiste Serin, took a quick penalty on halfway and released Davit Niniashvili to score. But the Georgian brushed the dead ball line at the back of the short in-goal area. It was a moment that has the power to change games.
Fortunately, for Lyon, it didn’t.
The excellent Couilloud had already scored one try and been denied another in the opening 10 minutes. Not to be outdone, the equally determined and impressive Serin finished off a multiphase move that he had started moments earlier.
Toulon ramped up the pressure in the second period after slipping those two scores. Berdeu was sin-binned for a no-arms tackle on his own line - he was fortunate not to concede a penalty try - but Toulon failed to capitalise. Even Cheslin Kolbe’s try five minutes from time was no more than a consolation. The title had long gone.
Arnold - Tuisova (Mignot 67’), Barassi, Ngatai, Niniashvili (Doussain 74’) - Berdeu, Couilloud - Taufua (Goujon 58’), Sobela (Fainga'a 56’), Cretin - Taofifenua (Kaabèche 56’), Kpoku (Lambey 73’) - Bamba (Gomez Kodela 73’), Marchand (Ivaldi 61’), Taofifenua.
Luc - Kolbe, Heriteau (Smaili 49’), Paia'aua, Villière (Wainiqolo 31’) - Carbonel, Serin (Blanc 70’) - Parisse, Ollivon, Du Preez (Isa 45’) - Alainu'uese (Rebbadj 49’), Etzebeth - Gigashvili (Setiano 63’), Tolofua (Etrillard 49’, Tolofua 65’), Gros (Devaux 56’).