| 17.3°C Dublin

Armitage treble wounds Ulster

Steffon Armitage scored a hat-trick as Toulon secured top spot in Champions Cup Pool 3 with a game to spare thanks to a 60-22 bonus-point win over Ulster.

Eight tries from Nicolas Sanchez, Bryan Habana, Mathieu Bastareaud, Martin Castrogiovanni, Mamuka Gorgodze and three from Armitage ensured the reigning champions are the first team to qualify for the knock-out stages.

They have never been beaten in the Champions Cup at the Stade Felix-Mayol and they can now look forward to a home quarter-final.

Toulon made a blistering start and scored their first try with less than three minutes on the clock when Maxime Mermoz put outside-half Sanchez under the posts.

Leigh Halfpenny kicked the conversion and a first penalty shortly before Ulster forced their way back into the contest with a try from fly-half Paddy Jackson.

Halfpenny added a second penalty before Ulster grabbed their second try when flanker Mike McComish touched down from a driving line-out.

Ulster were then dealt a double blow when Jackson suffered a shoulder injury and, with the visitors temporarily down to 14 men, Bastareaud found Habana for Toulon's second try.

Bastareaud then got on the score sheet when he rolled his way over from five metres just before half-time to give Toulon a 17-point advantage at the break.

Toulon sealed the bonus point on 49 minutes when Castrogiovanni went over near the touchline and it sparked a superb final half-hour from the home side.

First, Armitage grabbed try number five before a wonderful passage of play between forwards and backs was finished off by replacement Gorgodze for a contender for try of the season.

Armitage got his second of the afternoon when he was driven over from a set piece with 15 minutes to go before Ulster salvaged a bit of pride with a third try from Jared Payne.

But there was still time for Armitage to secure his hat-trick when he crossed with two minutes to play as Toulon condemned Ulster to their heaviest defeat in European history.

PA Media