European Rugby Champions Cup: Wasps 32-6 Toulon

By James StandleyBBC Sport
Nathan Hughes hands off Quade Cooper
Nathan Hughes, here handing off Quade Cooper, was a constant threat for Wasps
European Rugby Champions Cup Pool Five
Wasps (20) 32
Tries: Hughes 2, Jackson, Halai Cons: Jackson 3 Pens: Daly, Jackson
Toulon (6) 6
Pens: Pelissie 2

Nathan Hughes scored two tries as Wasps secured a bonus-point win over defending champions Toulon to move four points clear at the top of Pool Five in the European Champions Cup.

Wasps scored twice in the first 10 minutes via Hughes and Ruaridh Jackson.

Jackson and Elliot Daly added a penalty apiece with Jonathan Pelissie landing two for Toulon, champions three years in a row, to make it 20-6 at half-time.

Further tries from Frank Halai and Hughes secured Wasps' bonus point.

All about that pace

Wasps knew they might struggle to contain the powerful Toulon pack in the tight phases, and when they lost Bradley Davies to illness before the game that became even more likely.

His replacement in the second row, James Gaskell, is a much lighter player than Wales lock Davies, but what Wasps may have lost in the scrum they more than gained in the loose.

With the hosts playing a fast-paced game with plenty of width, the rangy Gaskell was in his element. His mobility enabled him to cover every blade of grass in a performance that saw him named man of the match.

Fast start from Wasps

Ruaridh Jackson scores Wasps' second try
Ruaridh Jackson scored Wasps' second try after only 10 minutes

The hosts were out of the blocks quickly and scored their opening try when number eight Hughes rampaged over after being set free by Jackson's raking pass.

Two minutes later, Wasps countered from deep. Simpson claimed Jackson's cute chip and fed Gaskell, who supplied the final pass for Jackson to scamper over from 40 metres.

That gave the home side a 14-0 lead and they led by the same margin at the break after both sides landed a pair of penalties.

Hosts keep pedal to the metal

Wasps maintained their ambition after the break and the only area Toulon had the advantage was the scrum.

With James Haskell and George Smith in outstanding form for Wasps - captain Haskell led from the front with 20 tackles - Toulon were unable to rule the breakdown or find a way through the home defence.

Wasps always looked the more threatening side and they scored a third try soon after half-time as full-back Charles Piatau sliced through Toulon on the counter-attack and Halai was on his shoulder to finish from 30 metres out.

After their win away to Leinster last weekend, Wasps were full of confidence and they duly secured a four-try bonus point when Hughes powered over from a well-worked line-out.

What they said

Wasps boss Dai Young on lively scrum-half Joe Simpson: "I don't see many nines better than Joe out there. His kicking game is up there with the best, and in broken play I think he's the best nine.

"Something England kept talking to him about was the game management, making the right decisions, but I think he's more than mastered that - he's shown how accomplished he is as a nine and a decision-maker."


Wasps: Piutau; Wade, Daly, Jacobs, Halai; Jackson, Simpson; Mullan, Festuccia, Cooper-Woolley, Launchbury, Gaskell, Haskell, G Smith, N Hughes.

Replacements: Lozowski for Piutau (71), Tagicakibau for Wade (67), Robson for Simpson (68), McIntyre for Mullan (59), Johnson for Festuccia (21), Cittadini for Cooper-Woolley (54), Myall for Launchbury (67), Jones for Haskell (67).

Toulon: D Armitage; Tuiosva, Bastareaud, Mermoz, Habana; Cooper, Pelissie; Chiocci, Etrillard, Stevens, Manoa, Taofifenua, J Smith, Fernandez Lobbe, S Armitage.

Replacements: Belan for Mermoz (71), Tillous-Borde for Pelissie (50), Fresia for Chiocci (51), Soury for Etrillard (63), Chilachava for Stevens (41), Mikautadze for Taofifenua (51), Gorgodze for J Smith (59), Vermeulen for S Armitage (51).

Att: 21,000

Ref: John Lacey (Ireland).