European Champions Cup: Toulon 24-9 Leinster

Steffon Armitage
Steffon Armitage has 10 career tries in Europe's elite competition
European Champions Cup Rugby
Toulon 24 (10)
Tries: S Armitage 2 Cons: Escande Pens: Escande 4
Leinster 9 (9)
Pens: Sexton 3

Defending champions Toulon claimed a first Champions Cup victory of the season by beating winless Leinster.

Steffon Armitage touched down from a catch and drive, with Eric Escande kicking the conversion and a penalty for Toulon's first-half points.

Johnny Sexton's three penalties kept the visitors in touch, but Escande added three of his own after the break.

Armitage crossed again at the death to all but end Leinster's prospects of progressing from Pool Five.

With only one losing bonus point from three games, Leinster need to win all three of their remaining matches to stand any chance of avoiding a first group-stage exit since the 2012-13 campaign.

Armitage maintains England hope

Armitage's try-scoring performance will once again raise the question over whether foreign-based players should represent England.

New England head coach Eddie Jones has said he is happy with the Rugby Football Union's policy of only selecting players from outside the Premiership in "exceptional circumstances".

But, when asked about the prospect of adding to his five Test caps, Armitage told Sky Sports: "I wouldn't say no, but my first thing is to keep playing well for Toulon and keep my place here.

"That's the only way I am going to get anywhere at international level - keep my head down and keep pushing. Who knows what is going to happen in the future?"

Leinster pay the penalty

Leinster v Toulon
Leinster defended resolutely but were punished for collecting three separate yellow cards

Toulon, champions in this competition for the past three seasons, were not at their fluid best against a resilient Leinster side, and struggled to work openings for their explosive wingers Bryan Habana and Drew Mitchell.

But the Top 14 club have at least got off the mark in Pool Five after their first fixture against Bath was postponed following the Paris attacks and they suffered a humbling 32-6 loss at Wasps three weeks ago.

Leinster had opportunities to hurt the hosts, with Johnny Sexton given the time and space to attempt kicks to the corners, but the Ireland fly-half's accuracy was uncharacteristically wayward.

Match stats
7Penalties conceded17
0Yellow cards3

And even when Armitage put the finishing touch on a catch and drive spearheaded by Duane Vermeulen, the visitors were still in with a chance thanks to three Sexton penalties.

The Blues' front three of Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss and Mike Ross put in an exhaustive defensive shift before they were replaced after 50 minutes, but it was Leinster's ill discipline that eventually cost them.

They survived Healy's first-half sin-binning unscathed, but saw the points margin widen when Escande landed two penalties during a period in the bin for Devin Toner.

Leinster conceded 17 penalties in total, and were finally finished off in the final minute when Tom Denton was shown a yellow card before Armitage barrelled through from a line-out.

Toulon: D. Armitage; Habana, Bastareaud, Nonu, Mitchell; Giteau, Escande; Fresia, Guirado, Stevens; Manoa, Taofifenua; Gorgodze, S. Armitage, Vermeulen.

Replacements: Taylor for D. Armitage (59), Mermoz for Nonu (69), Meric for Escande (76), Chiocci for Fresia (51), Etrillard for Guirado (59), Chilachava for Stevens (41), Suta for Manoa (53), J. Smith for Gorgodze (51).

Leinster: R. Kearney; McFadden, Te'o, Fitzgerald, Nacewa; Sexton, Boss; Healy, Strauss, Ross; Toner, McCarthy; Ruddock, Van der Flier, Heaslip.

Replacements: D. Kearney for R. Kearney (62), Madigan for Fitzgerald (76), Reddan for Boss (49), J. McGrath for Healy (49), Cronin for Strauss (49), Moore for Ross (49), Denton for McCarthy (62). Murphy for Van der Flier (69).

Sin bin: Healy (25), Toner (46), Denton (79).

Attendance: 12,590

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales).

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