Toulon crushed 14-man Brive 53-13 running in eight tries after Peet Marais’ red card in the first half.
Brive had come into the game as the least disciplined side in the Top 14, and they continued that trend when Marais received his marching orders for throwing an elbow to the head of Romain Taofifenua in a ruck after 25 minutes.
It came in the build-up to action where Delon Armitage went over to score the first try of the game, and the full-back went over again in the second half in an impressive display.
James O’Connor was equally dangerous, and though he didn’t go over himself, he played a role in a number of second-half tries.
And in the end it was Rudi Wulf who finished off with a hat-trick, showing his finishing prowess to pop up in the right place three times.
The win was exactly what the reigning French champions needed after two defeats in their last three games, including a home loss to Stade Français last time out and moved them temporarily top of the table.
Toulon made the better start but having struggled from the kicking tee last week, they continued in the same vein, with Matt Giteau missing an early penalty.
Armitage took over the kicking for a long-range shot at goal, which he made to give the visitors the lead, but Brive responded with a penalty of their own through Gaetan Germain.
Still, Toulon looked much the more dangerous side, and they thought they had taken the lead when Armitage chipped over the top for himself and touched down on the right, but it was called back for a forward pass in the build-up.
Armitage was not to be denied though and he scored hi first try after 25 minutes in the defining moment in the game. Again Armitage used his kicking game and had the pace to outsprint Thomas Laranjeira and touch down.
The problem for Brive was that they didn’t just concede the try, with the referee coming back for a coming together in the build-up.
After consultation with the TMO it was clear that Marais had attacked Taofifenua in a ruck, and he was rightly sent off, leaving his partners a man down for the best part of an hour.
O’Connor, who had taken over from Giteau, added the penalty to make it 10-3 to the visitors.
The loss of a their second row seemed to have affected Brive, and they lost their shape conceding two tries in two minutes.
First it was a kick through from Armitage which set up Wulf to beat the covering defence to dive on the ball.
Two minutes later Giteau spotted a huge gap in the Brive defence and sprinted through before switching with Drew Mitchell who had more than enough pace to race over. O’Connor’s conversion made it 22-3 and the game looked over as a contest.
In fairness to Brive, they showed some spirit to stem the tide, and even managed to score next thanks to their giant Fijian Sisa Koyamaibole.
The number eight showed his strength to crash over, despite a hint of a knock-on in the build-up.
Germain added the conversion and a long-range penalty on the stroke of half-time as Brive trailed by just nine points at the break.
They could have cut the deficit further at the start of the second half with two penalties within Germain’s range.
However neither was an easy shot at goal, and he pulled both attempts wide.
Toulon then reasserted themselves with a fourth try that started from some great defence.
The home side held on to the ball for phase after phase but lost huge chunks of ground before having to kick the ball away.
Toulon took the lineout quickly and O’Connor made an initial break. Alexandre Menini collected the ball on the Brive 22 and carried forward before Maxime Mermoz was fed the ball and sprinted through for a deserved score. O’Connor converted from in front.
That seemed to kill off any hopes of a Brive comeback, and Armitage was next to go over, as Giteau picked him out when the visitors had a huge overlap.
The floodgates had well and truly opened, and Toulon showed no mercy, running in a sixth try through Sebastien Tillous-Bordes, who spotted a gap in the ruck defence to dart through. O’Connor missed the conversion but Toulon still led 41-13 with more than 20 minutes remaining.
Brive kept fighting, but were clearly outmatched, and they conceded a seventh try through Wulf, the former All Black breaking through some weak tackling in midfield to grab his second try of the night.
And there was still time for Wulf to complete his hat-trick with the simplest of finishes in the final minute as Brive were reduced to 13 men when Riaan Swanepoel was injured with all the replacements having been made.
For Brive: Tries: Koyamaibole Conversions: Germain Penalties: Germain 2 Red Cards: Marais
For Toulon: Tries: D Armitage 2, Wulf 3, Mitchell, Mermoz, Tillous-Bordes Conversions: O’Connor 5 Penalties: Armitage
Brive: 15 Gaetan Germain, 14 Elia Radikedike, 13 Arnaud Mignardi, 12 Riaan Swanepoel, 11 Guillaume Namy, 10 Thomas Laranjeira, 9 Jean Baptiste Pejoine, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole, 7 Poutasi Luafutu, 6 Petrus Hauman, 5 Arnaud Mela, 4 Peet Marais, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Guillaume Ribes, 1 Goderzi Shvelidze. Replacements: 16 Thomas Acquier, 17 Johannes Coetzee, 18 Russlan Boukerou, 19 Hugues Briatte , 20 Damien Neveu, 21 Sevanaia Galala, 22 Benito Masilevu, 23 Pat Barnard.
Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage 14 James O’Connor, 13 Rudi Wulf, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Sebastien Tillous Borde, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Virgile Bruni, 6 Juan Smith, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Konstantine Mikautadze, 3 Levan Chilachava, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Alexandre Menini. Replacements: 16 Jean-Charles Orioli, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Jocelino Suta, 19 Steffon Armitage, 20 Mathieu Bastareaud, 21 Andrew Cramond, 22 Eric Escande, 23 Carl Hayman.
Referee: Pascal Gauzère
- Planet Rugby