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Forgotten England star shines as Exeter Chiefs edge out Toulon

By PA
Exeter Chiefs' English hooker Max Norey (CR) leads Exeter's players celebration after their victory in their European Champions Cup rugby union match against Rugby Club Toulonnais (Toulon) at the Stade Mayol in Toulon, south-eastern France on December 9, 2023. (Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP via Getty Images)

Henry Slade held his nerve to land a match-winning conversion with the game’s final kick as Exeter launched their Investec Champions Cup campaign with a stunning 19-18 victory over Toulon.

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The Chiefs trailed by 13 points at half-time, but they kept French Top 14 title contenders Toulon scoreless after the break.

Flanker Jacques Vermeulen touched down from close range for Exeter’s third try with a minute left at Stade Felix-Mayol, then England international centre Slade stepped up to convert amid intense pressure.

And it meant that Rob Baxter’s team made a flying start at the start of four pool stage weekends in the quest for a round-of-16 place.

Fly-half Harvey Skinner scored an early interception try for the Chiefs, but Toulon then took charge as prop Beka Gigashvili and former Leicester scrum-half Ben White touched down, while fly-half Enzo Herve kicked a conversion and two penalties.

It left Exeter 18-5 adrift at the interval, but the second-half performance will be remembered as one of Chiefs’ finest in their European history, with hooker Max Norey claiming a try that Slade converted before the memorable finale.

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