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Toulon player ratings vs Glasgow | 2023 Challenge Cup final

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Toulon player ratings live from Aviva Stadium: Ten years on from their maiden Heineken Champions Cup title in their still unrivalled three-in-a-row success, Toulon were back in Dublin on Friday night looking to become second-tier champions for the first time.

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Showpiece defeats to Bristol and Lyon in recent times had given the French club a sharp reminder that life has very much changed from their days of ruling Europe with the likes of Jonny Wilkinson, Bakkies Botha and Matt Giteau heading up a galaxy of bright and shining stars.

They still like household names on their books. Just look at the presence of Cheslin Kolbe, Dan Biggar and Sergio Parisse in this class of 2023, along with stand-out locals such as Gabin Villiere, Baptiste Serin and Charles Ollivon.

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However, with the club having not contested a Top 14 final since 2017 and with the cloth now cut differently at the club in this post-Mourad Boudjellal era, mid-table league campaigns have become a habit as evident in their latest eighth-place effort with one match remaining.

Winning the Challenge Cup, then, was a must in front of a 31,514 attendance and they turned up in rude health, unlike the last time they were in Dublin when their April 2021 round-of-16 match was cancelled at Leinster to leave them eliminated from the Champions Cup.

Despite losing Dan Biggar to a failed HIA, everything else ran smoothly with Baptiste Serie the star of the show, scoring two first-half tries and assisting Sergio Parisse with the other for a commanding 21-0 advantage.

With the inaccurate Glasgow continuing to repeatedly kick penalties to touch on the resumption and not at the posts to chip into the gap, there was never going to be a revival and the second half was a question of how much the winning margin would be.

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Twenty-four was the answer, Toulon enjoying second-half tries from Jiuta Naqoli Wainiqolo, Waisea Vuidravuwalu and Ihaia West to head off some consolation Glasgow tries and confirm an impressive 43-19 victory. Here are the Toulon player ratings:

15. Cheslin Kolbe – 8.5
Came to the club as a 2021 double-winner with Toulouse, he now has more silverware on the back of a solid performance where his frills were his early second-half try-saving tackle on Sebastian Cancelliere followed by a peach of a 50:22 and then a try assist pass. Another crunching tackle on Cancelliere followed later on.

14. Jiuta Naqoli Wainiqolo – 7
The young Fijian had been in the finishing form of his life this term and it showed with his classy finish on 58, stepping in off his line and gliding through the cover. That intervention made sweet amends for his mishap just minutes earlier when buying a dummy from the try-scoring Kyle Steyn.

13. Waisea Vuidravuwalu – 8.5
Snapped up after a decade at Stade Francais, his highlight was the terrific carry to create Toulon’s try, accelerating with panache in between two would-be Glasgow tacklers. Loved the enthusiasm. Loved the hair, too. Deservedly rewarded with a 64th-minute try.

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12. Duncan Paia’aua – 6 (Jeremy Sinzelle – 6.5)
One of the half-dozen players to start all three Challenge Cup finals with Toulon, and unfortunate dunt in a collision with Sione Tuipulotu ended his evening on 32 minutes. Sinzelle, a summer signing from La Rochelle, didn’t let Toulon down after his entry.

11. Gabin Villiere – 6.5 (Mathieu Bastareaud – 6)
A star of the 2022 Grand Slam, injury wrecked his year and that frustration continued here as he didn’t return for the second half. Showed his value, though, when reacting first to a dangerous kick ahead that had Kolbe beaten with Glasgow trying to chisel into a 0-14 deficit. Bastareaud, the old centre, had been named as a sub forward, but he played in the midfield given the backline’s glut of injuries. Was given one sit-down by Sione Tuipulotu.

10. Dan Biggar – No rating (Ihaia West – 7)
On a day of headline Test retirements in Wales, the veteran out-half sadly lasted a mere four minutes and didn’t return after a failed HIA. His replacement was far from shabby, Ihaia West showing why he was a Champions Cup winner last term with La Rochelle. Delightfully rounded things off with his team’s sixth try.

9. Baptiste Serin – 9 (Benoit Paillaugue – 7)
Living in the shadow of Antione Dupont at Test level, but very much a club rock star and he took this contest by the scruff of the neck and had it killed by the 25th minute with two fine tries and a slick assist. His kick for the first was sweet and the dummy for his second score was top-drawer. As with Toulon’s other early bench introductions, Benoit Paillaugue didn’t disappoint with his half-time introduction.

1. Dany Priso – 8 (Jean Baptiste Gros – 6.5)
Another of the players snapped up last summer from La Rochelle, he gave Zander Fangerson all sorts of trouble, so much so that the opposition prop was whipped on as early as the 46th minute. Priso followed five minutes later to give Gros the opportunity to adequately see it through to the finish.

2. Teddy Baubigny – 7.5 (Christopher Tolofua – 6.5 )
The import from Racing 92 was one of the prime robust reasons why Toulon has Glasgow’s number. Demonstrated his immense value with a maul turnover early in the second half. Gone on 46, though, to allow Tolofua to finish the job.

3. Beka Gigashvili – 7.5 (Kieran Brookes – 6) 
Six years after packing down in Federale 1 at Chambery, the Georgian is now a European title winner. Was on top of his game when it mattered. Exited on 51 minutes for Brookes and then came back seven minutes from the end.

4. Mathieu Tanguy – 7.5 (Facundo Isa – 6)
A fringe European player in recent seasons at La Rochelle, his heft was invaluable to Toulon in getting the edge here on the Warriors. Left on 57 for a HIA and returned on 70 to allow Parisse to take the acclaim of an adoring crowd.

5. Brian Alainu’uese – 7.5
Had his Glasgow connections, having spent time in Scotland, but there was no love lost here as his engine room grunt helped tilt the balance.

6. Cornell Du Preez – 7
From the now-defunct Worcester to a cup-winning team by the Med, the South African showed his bruteness when giving Fraser Brown the smack that dislodged possession when Glasgow were trying to grab a lifeline at 0-21.

7. Charles Ollivon – 8
Having had his semi-final red card rescinded at a disciplinary hearing, he was a breakdown nuisance here and his lineout steal was the genesis of the contest-deadening third try.

8. Sergio Parisse – 8
The rugby romantics demanded that the 39-year-old got the perfect send-off as a winner and boy did he enjoy celebrating his 18th-minute try under the posts. Left to a heartening standing ovation shortly before the finish. A classy European exit for a class operator.

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