Sale Sharks were forced to reshuffle hours before the game when Cameron Shepherd failed a fitness test. Rob Miller reverted to Full Back, Charlie Amesbury took Rob Miller's place on the wing and Tom Holmes the travelling reserve took his place on the bench.
The game started with wave after wave of Toulon attacks but the Sharks defence manfully held them out. Michalek slotted over a penalty on 5 mins to give the home side the lead. Rob Miller and Richie Gray saved certain tries and the video referee was called upon several times as Toulon thought they had scored but he ruled no try on each occasion. The Sharks defence was finally breached on 31 mins when Toulon Hooker Orioli touched down after a rolling maul that Toulon started and Sharks had no answer to it. Michalek converted and the busy little fly half scored a try himself two minutes later which he converted himself. The Sharks tackle count was mounting and inevitably injuries started to occur with both Aston Croall and Ross Harrison needing treatment. Thankfully both recovered. The Toulon attack was probably the best Sharks have faced all season and they trailed 17-0 at the break.
The second half started as the first had finished with wave after wave of Toulon attacks. Both the Amitage brothers scored a try as did Wulf,Smith, Van Niekerk (two) and giant prop Kubriashvili. Michalek converted four of the tries and replacement Jonny Wilkinson converted another.
Sharks had put in a big shift in during the first period defending manfully but there was simply no answer to the Toulon side who are a class act and had players like Sheridan, Bruno, Haymens, Lobbe and Shaw on the bench to introduce during the second half. Sharks made substitutions of their own and Tony Buckley put in a couple of barnstorming runs but sadly they came to nothing.
The team fly back to the UK tomorrow and will regroup quickly before planning and preparation starts for Sunday's big game away to Wasps is the Aviva Premieship.
After the game Director of Rugby John Mitchell said, "The team is disappointed, as well as individuals with their own performances.
"I've been looking at this group of players ahead of the Christmas period and I certainly know a lot more about some individuals after that performance.
"Some of the characters have been revealed and I don't have a lot of choice in some positions.
"But we don't have any regrets - we got what we deserved. Toulon were exceptional.
"All the defensive work we did in the first half took its toll. We were there for 35 minutes but we gave them two soft tries through the same channel and unfortunately against a side like Toulon you can't afford to do that.
"We were coming here looking to build on the previous performance at home, but that wasn't achieved and we are very disappointed."
Toulon: D Armitage; Wulf, Mermoz, Giteau, Smith; Michalak, Tillous-Borde; Jenkins, Orioli, Kubriashvili, Botha, Kennedy, Gunther, Van Niekerk (capt), S Armitage.
Replacements: Bruno, Sheridan, Hayman, Suta, Bastareaud, Fernandez-Lobbe, Wilkinson, Shaw.
Yellow Card: Shaw 55mins
Sale Sharks: Miller; Jennings, Cueto, Leota, Amesbury; Cipriani, Cliff; Harrison, Croall, Lewis-Roberts, Gray, McKenzie, Gaskell, Seymour (capt), Vernon.
Replacements: Tom Cruse (not used), Vadim Cobilas (62mins), Tony Buckley (45min), Kearnan Myall (58mins), Andy Powell (45mins), Cillian Willis (50mins), Sam Tuitupou (45min), Tom Holmes (71mins).
Subs: 45mins: Tuitupou on Amesbury off, Powell on Gaskell off, Buckley on Roberts off. 50mins: Willis on Cliff off. 58mins: Myall on Gray off. 62mins: Cobilas on Harrison off. 71mins: Holmes on McKenzie off
Yellow Card: McKenzie 50min
Scoring: (Toulon first) 3-0, 8-0, 10-0, 15-0, 17-0 (Half Time) 22-0, 24-0, 29-0, 31-0, 36-0, 38-0, 43-0, 48-0, 50-0, 55-0, 57-0, 62-0
Our next Aviva Premiership home game will be against Worcester Warriors on Friday 28th December. Click here to book your tickets now or call 08444 994 994 (Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm).
As a Christmas treat, Sale Sharks are offering a shirt and ticket offer for #SHAvWAR. So, buy the Sharks home, alternate or European shirt online or in-store and receive a discounted ticket to the game. Click here for more information.
|Toulon Score Card|
|Joe van Niekerk||2||10|
|Sale Sharks Score Card|