Champions Toulon start post-Jonny Wilkinson era with victory

Paris: Defending champions Toulon began life after Jonny Wilkinson with a battling 29-15 victory at Bayonne on Friday on the opening day of the new Top 14 season.

With the Englishman having retired from the sport after helping the French giants to a domestic and European double last season, Toulon still looked impressive with vast resources of superstars to call on.

"If we didn`t get the bonus point it is because we didn`t deserve it," said demanding Toulon coach Bernard Laporte.

"We always want more and I am the first to want it. But I am satisfied. It`s our third match (Toulon played and won two pre-season friendlies against Toulouse and Racing-Metro) and we are missing big players who are at the Rugby Championship.

"So we used players who are new to the club. The important thing was to start well, to create a good dynamic. I saw passion in the squad."

Toulon, who won the corresponding fixture 15-9 last season on their way to a first Top 14 title in 22 years, were on top in the first half but went in at the break locked at 12-12.

Matt Giteau, playing in the fly-half position vacated by Wilkinson, kicked all of the champions` points with Argentina winger Martin Bustos Moyano enjoying a 100 per cent success rate with the boot for Bayonne.

After Delon Armitage hit a long-range penalty for 15-12, the champions deservedly grabbed the first try of the Top 14 season five minutes into the second half.

It came when Bayonne had been reduced to 14 men with replacement prop Gert Muller sin-binned for a scrum infringement.

Giteau set it up, cleverly using Mathieu Bastareaud as a heavyweight decoy.

Maxime Mermoz was held up just before the line before Bastareaud stormed through in support to score. Giteau added the extras for 22-12.

Bustos Moyano cut the deficit with a fifth penalty from five kicks before David Smith scored Toulon`s second try with Bayonne still a man short.

It was created by No 8 Steffon Armitage who released Bastareaud to kick ahead.

The ball appeared to be heading beyond the dead ball line but Samoan winger Smith was alert to the opportunity to pounce for the score despite a hint of offside when Bastareaud chipped on.

Giteau knocked over the confident conversion for 29-15.

Bayonne coach Patriocio Noriega admitted his team had been outclassed.

"They were well in charge, with good tactics, dominated the contact, did a good job in defence and protected the ball," he said.

"Without the ball, you cannot play."

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