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PREVIEW: Doak urges Ulster to enjoy Toulon test

Thursday 15th January 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Neither side hit the ground running in the opening round of the European Rugby Champions Cup but they came away with very different results. - 23/10/2014 14:23

Neither side hit the ground running in the opening round of the European Rugby Champions Cup but they came away with very different results. - 23/10/2014 14:23

Ulster head coach Neil Doak insists his side have nothing to fear when they face reigning champions Toulon.

With their hopes of European qualification over, Doak has urged his players to enjoy their visit to the Champions Cup holders on Saturday.
Toulon have a five point lead over second-placed Scarlets in pool 3 and remain firm favourites to finish top of the group.
The star-studded French outfit have won all 13 home fixtures in the competition but Ulster’s Doak is eyeing a surprise upset.
He said: “It is a little bit strange with no realistic chance of qualifying but European games are always exciting. We have nothing to lose and the pressure is on Toulon.
“We have to make sure that we use the ball and if we get in for a few scores – who knows? We know that it’s not going to be easy this weekend but we have nothing to lose. It’s an exciting place to go to.
“Toulon are the Champions of Europe and the boys are looking forward to it. Europe is gone for us and we want to work on the things that we have been trying in training.
“We will go and try and stretch them and we are just aiming to focus on ourselves and use the ball wisely.”
Toulon have been boosted by the news veteran lock Bakkies Botha did not fracture his hand in their win over Racing Metro as initially feared but he is still likely to miss the Ulster clash.
Match Facts

  • Ulster Rugby have won on their last two trips to France, after previously failing to win on French soil in 14 attempts.
  • Toulon, however, have won all 13 home games in the competition.
  • The French side have won their last four encounters with Irish teams by an average margin of 12 points.
  • The meeting between these two sides in Round 2 saw 23 turnovers won by the teams combined (Ulster 12, Toulon 11); only one fixture this season has seen more turnovers won in a single game.
  • Only one player has managed to beat more defenders than Craig Gilroy, he has beaten 13 defenders from just 33 carries this season.

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REPORT: Toulon seal quarter-final spot with Ulster thrashing

Saturday 17th January 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Grâce à son impressionnante victoire sur l'Ulster (60-22)

Grâce à son impressionnante victoire sur l'Ulster (60-22)

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

Eight tries from Nicolas Sanchez, Bryan Habana, Mathieu Bastareaud, Martin Castrogiovanni, Mamuka Gorgodze and three from Armitage ensures 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 tries from Jared Payne and a second for McComish.

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. 

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