Saturday 23 June 2018

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Ashton bags three for terrific Toulon

Chris Ashton's hat-trick helped Toulon to a comprehensive victory over Stade Francais (stock picture)
Chris Ashton's hat-trick helped Toulon to a comprehensive victory over Stade Francais (stock picture)

Declan Rooney

Chris Ashton scored a 31-minute hat-trick in the first-half as Toulon romped to their second win in-a-row and took the honours against Stade Francais.

There are still six weeks to go until the French outfit arrive in Thomond Park to face Munster in the last eight of the Champions Cup, and it promises to be a real test if Toulon can maintain this form.

Ashton's hat-trick helped Toulon to a 22-0 interval lead, but the woes continued for Stade as Mathieu Bastareaud and Eric Escande crossed in the third quarter.

Laurent Panis finally ended 63 scoreless minutes for Stade Francais with his try, but Raphael Lakafia nabbed Toulon's sixth try late on.

Despite the international window, there was still plenty of talent on display from Toulon as the pack featured Xavi Chiocci, Argentinian duo Juan Fernandez Lobbe and Facundo Isa, with Duane Vermeulen at No 8.

Half-backs Escande and Francois Trinh-Duc got on the scoreboard, while the centre duo of Bastareaud and Malakai Fekitoa also showed bright sparks ahead of their trip to Limerick.

Now fifth in the Top 14, Toulon are eight points behind leaders Montpellier, and six back from Racing 92, who Munster could face again in the semi-finals.

Racing were 19-12 winners over La Rochelle last weekend, while Clermont, who are also in the same side of the draw as Munster, are in 10th place after their 36-10 away loss to Lyon.

Irish Independent

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