Toulon picked up a well-timed first win in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup as they triumphed 38-28 over fellow Top 14 outfit Montpellier at Stade Mayol.
A win for Montpellier would have lifted them to at least within a point of Pool Five leaders Edinburgh, but Toulon’s bonus-point victory brings them level with their visitors, two behind Newcastle Falcons and five behind the table-topping Scottish club.
The match was an eight-try thriller, with Toulon confounding their dreadful Top 14 form this season to hand Montpellier a rare defeat.
One of the more eye-catching selections was that of Julian Savea’s ongoing position switch to 12.
That experiment continued today against Montpellier, where he made a respectable 41 metres from 12 carries, beating three defenders on the way.
Savea first moved to 12 for Toulon in November, where and scored first try for his new employers against Perpignan.
By Savea’s standards, his time at Toulon has been a relatively barren spell and a positional move at least sees the ball get into the powerful winger’s hands with more regularity.
He was capped by the All Blacks 54 times and scored 46 tries, giving him one of the best try scoring strike rates in international rugby history; yet at Toulon he is yet to pay dividends on the significant investment made in him by his club.
Toulon took a bet on the big winger who had fallen out of favour with the All Blacks and who had a mixed end to his career at the Hurricanes, where he had all but lost the battle for his place with Ben Lam, being forced to move to the opposite wing to accommodate the younger, larger winger.
Known as the ‘The Bus’ by his fans, the 6’2, 104kg wing ended his Hurricanes career with 52 tries to his credit. While his try scoring abilities appear to have waned somewhat, a future making metres in the centre for Toulon makes a certain amount of sense.
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