Toulon crush feeble Sale to put one foot in last eight
Published 17/12/2012 | 05:00
DESPITE leaving out a host of their stars, tournament pace-setters Toulon romped to a nine-try 62-0 home win over Sale Sharks.
Along with Conor O'Shea's Harlequins and Clermont, Toulon have won all four of their games in the competition, and that record looked in little danger thanks largely to the promptings of Freddy Michalak, who helped himself to 20 points against the struggling English side.
Toulon are fully in control of Pool 6, with Montpellier five points off the pace in second despite their bonus-point home win over Cardiff.
Former Ulster wing Timoci Nagusa was among the try scorers for Montpellier as the visitors failed to capitalise on Sam Warburton's early try.
Racing Metro kept themselves in the hunt for a quarter-final spot with a second successive win over Michael Bradley's Edinburgh in Pool 1, but they are still two points behind pool leaders Saracens.
In Pool 2, Ospreys pulled off the shock of the weekend when they beat Toulouse 17-6 at Liberty Stadium.
The French side were comfortable winners on home soil last weekend, but they failed to secure even a bonus point as the Ospreys breathed new life into their qualification hopes. Eli Walker got the only try of the game.
That result saw Leicester take control of the group after their last-gasp win over Treviso in Italy. George Ford converted a penalty try that was awarded by Irish referee Alain Rolland for persistent collapsing of the scrum.
O'Shea's Quins are 10 points clear at the top of Pool 3, having bagged seven tries in crushing hapless Zebre 53-5.
Northampton's win in Belfast means that Castres are within touching distance of Ulster at the summit of Pool 4, having edged out battling Glasgow 10-8 to extend their winning run at Stade Pierre Antoine to 14 games.
Clermont took control of Pool 5, but Exeter still have hopes of progress after securing their first away win of the competition, battling past Simon Easterby's Scarlets at Sandy Park – the 30-20 success was their seventh straight win in all competitions.
Exeter have been looking to expand their style in Europe, and have also improved their squad depth.
"Sometimes it's only when you are forced to make changes that you realise what depth you have got and we are definitely starting to feel more comfortable making those changes," said coach Rob Baxter.
"It really started against Harlequins in the league back in October when we made four or five changes and we put in one of our best performances of the season. It brings a freshness."