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Toulon too strong for Scarlets

Leigh Halfpenny kicked 13 points as Toulon booked a home Champions Cup quarter-final place with a comfortable 26-3 victory over Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets.

It was far from a vintage performance from the French side but they were still much too good for the Welsh region, who slipped to their fourth defeat in Pool Three.

Toulon were restricted to two tries for centre Mathieu Bastareaud and wing Bryan Habana, with full-back Halfpenny kicking three penalties and two conversions. Nicholas Sanchez also provides a drop goal. Scarlets' only points came from a Steve Shingler penalty.

The platform for Toulon's fifth win in six pool games came from their total dominance in the opening quarter.

The Scarlets had no answer to a combination of power and skill from a Toulon starting line-up which boasted 496 caps as they opened a 13-0 lead without really getting out of second gear.

In fact it took the Top 14 side only four minutes to get across the line, a try scored by Bastareaud and converted by Halfpenny.

The try had been created by a fine break from Argentina number 10 Sanchez, who combined well with half-back partner Sebastien Tillous-Borde.

In the early stages Scarets could not get their hands on the ball as Toulon were just intent on building a lead, which they did with Halfpenny penalties on 10 and 19 minutes.

Their lead was given an extra boost with a neat snap drop-goal from Sanchez on 22 minutes. The blemish of the half for Toulon was that they lost France number nine Tillous-Borde with a leg injury.

It was credit to Scarlets that they went close to scoring a try on the half-hour mark but had to make do with a penalty from the boot of Shingler.

That was cancelled out with a third successful shot at goal from Halfpenny six minutes from the break.

The only surprise, considering their dominance in possession, was that Toulon finished the first half - which they led 19-3 - having scored only the one try.

But a few French passes did go astray and that also happened at the start of the second period, when Halfpenny was unable to find Drew Mitchell who was free on the left.

And Halfpenny was also off target with a fourth penalty attempt from halfway on 46 minutes.

But a dominant scrum helped to set up Toulon's second try. The ball came out to Habana on the left, who cut inside to go over. Halfpenny converted as the French side's lead was extended to 26-3.

As the Scarlets started to get a foothold in Toulon's half, the visitors' lock Jocelino Suta saw yellow for dragging down the jumper at a line-out.

But, despite having a man advantage, Scarlets had no answer to Toulon's defence at the breakdown and in particular man of the match Steffon Armitage.

It meant that, despite all their efforts, it was a scoreless second half for the home side as they finished bottom of Pool Three.

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