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Toulon below par but still have too much for battling Sale

• Sale 5-15 Toulon
• French side recover from defeat against Saracens in previous outing

Toulon got up and running in this season’s European Champions Cup but were far from convincing as they began in bullying mode before retreating into their shells. They resisted a spirited second-half showing from Sale Sharks, who recovered from shipping two early tries yet never truly possessed the quality to topple the three-times winners.

A week after losing a European Cup fixture at Stade Mayol for the first time, when they were humbled by the holders and pool three rivals Saracens, the French club were, in theory, vulnerable on Friday night at the AJ Bell Stadium. That theory was blown to smithereens, along with Sale’s defence, in the opening quarter-hour, when tries from Charles Ollivon and Leigh Halfpenny suggested a sound beating was in prospect for the Sharks. If a 32nd-minute try in reply by Paolo Odogwu prevented a procession, a second half that passed scoreless revealed Sale’s limitations yet also those, if only on the night, of the strangely subdued collection of star names in opposition.

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