Toulon vs Ulster match report: Steffon Armitage hat-trick as Toulon show their pedigree

Toulon 60 Ulster 22: Toulon show signs that they're ready to make it three in a row

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The Independent Online

There was a flu outbreak in the Toulon camp this week, but the reigning European champions appear to be in rude health. This bonus-point win, achieved when Italian prop Martin Castrogiovanni bagged the fourth try on 49 minutes, mean the holders have topped Pool Three with a round to spare. The eight-try carnage included a hat-trick for Steffon Armitage, who keeps finding ways to make the headlines.

Toulon lined up without playmaker Matt Giteau but his understudy, Nicolas Sanchez, swiftly made his mark when he crossed in the third minute, the Pumas fly-half converting his try.

Leigh Halfpenny added two penalties, but Ulster, already out of the competition and playing without fear, fired some shots of their own as Paddy Jackson and Mike McComish scored tries to reduce the deficit to 13-10. Jackson then retired with a suspected dislocated elbow.

Toulon were roused, two tries in five minutes shortly before half-time restoring the natural order as Springbok wing Bryan Habana skipped clear and then Mathieu Bastareaud rolled over.

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Mathieu Bastareuad barrells his way over for a try against Ulster

Trailing 27-10 at the break, Ulster lost a third back, Stuart Olding, to injury, which forced them to play with three scrum-halves. Castrogiovanni’s try opened the floodgates, back-rows Armitage and Mamuka Gorgodze piling on the misery as Toulon showed their superior firepower.

Halfpenny finished with 18 points as Armitage completed his treble, and the late scores by Jared Payne and McComish did little to ease the pain on a chastening day for the visitors.

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Nicolas Sanchez dives over the line for a try

Line-ups:

Toulon: L Halfpenny; D Mitchell, M Bastareaud (R Wulf, 65), M Mermoz, B Habana; N Sanchez (D Smith, 68), S Tillous-Borde (E Escande, 58); X Chiocci (F Fresia, 55), G Guirado (JC Orioli, ht), M Castrogiovanni, J Suta (K Mikautadze, 63), A Williams, J Smith (M Gorgodze, 58), S Armitage, C Masoe (capt).

Ulster: J Payne; L Ludik (I Humphreys, 23), D Cave, S Olding (M Heaney, 44), M Allen; P Jackson (P Marshall, 32), R Pienaar; A Warwick (C Black, 63), R Herring (J Andrew, 71), B Ross (D Fitzpatrick, 51), A O’Connor, F Van der Merwe (L Stevenson, 59), C Ross, M McComish, R Wilson (capt, R Diack, 51).

Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wal).

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