PARIS (AFP) – Leicester Tigers inflicted the first defeat on champions Toulon in the European Champions Cup for more than a year with a 25-21 success at Welford Road on Sunday.
The twice former winners and five-time finalists had to dig deep to hold off the winners from the last two seasons despite being outscored two tries to one.
Their losing bonus point kept Toulon top of Pool 3 despite tasting defeat in the competition for the first time since a 19-15 reverse at Cardiff Blues in October last year.
Leicester are second a point behind with Ulster two points further back, whilst Scarlets are bottom.
World Cup winning New Zealander Brad Thorn crossed the whitewash for Leicester, for whom Welsh fly-half Owen Williams, surprisingly picked ahead of Freddie Burns, scored 20 points.
“It’s a great win. It is the best we have probably played for 18 months,” said Leicester’s rugby director Richard Cockerill.
“It will be twice as hard to go there and win next week. Toulon will be really cheesed off, and it really doesn’t get any more difficult than that.”
Tries from another World Cup winner, Bryan Habana, and former Wallaby Drew Mitchell weren’t enough to earn Toulon a victory.
After opening the scoring on 10 minutes with a penalty, Williams was gifted the chance to add a second when former Tiger Martin Castro-giovanni’s excessive aggression at a ruck saw a penalty for Toulon overturned in Leicester’s favour.