Lockett's late try gives spirited Saints stunning Champions Cup win against Toulon

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Tom Lockett scored a dramatic last-gasp try as Saints secured a memorable 22-19 Investec Champions Cup win at home to Toulon on Friday night.

Phil Dowson's men had seen their lead disappear as Toulon came roaring back at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens, with a try from former Saints lock David Ribbans putting the French side 16-15 up in the 56th minute.

Melvyn Jaminet added to the lead with a drop goal and Saints were looking weary, having lost three wings to injury, with George Hendy, Tom Seabrook and Ollie Sleightholme all forced off.

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It meant their backline was unrecognisable from the one that started the game, with centre Tom Litchfield and scrum-half Tom James on the wings and debutant Charlie Savala on at centre.

Tom Lockett scored a dramatic late try (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Tom Lockett scored a dramatic late try (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Tom Lockett scored a dramatic late try (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

But the black, green and gold refused to be denied and after Toulon were reduced to 13 men due to two yellow cards from the same passage of play, Saints sensed their chance.

They set up an attack with the clock ticking down, and eventually Lockett made the extra numbers count out wide as he dotted down to bag the bonus-point try.

Fin Smith landed the conversion in nerveless fashion and Saints then held out from the kick-off, keeping the ball before booting it out to bring a massive roar from the Gardens faithful.

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It was a fourth win in succession for Dowson's side, who have now beaten Harlequins, Saracens, Glasgow Warriors and Toulon in consecutive weeks.

It means they have collected nine points from a possible 10 in Europe so far, putting them in a strong position going into games against Bayonne and Munster in January.

They knew they would have their work cut out against a Toulon side sitting second in the French Top 14.

And the visitors, who had lost by a point at home to Exeter Chiefs on the previous weekend, took an early lead at the Gardens thanks to an Enzo Herve penalty, which was earned at the scrum.

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But Saints responded in fantastic fashion, kicking a penalty to the corner before producing a beautiful backs move, with Smith and Hendy playing key roles before George Furbank sent Seabrook over out wide.

Smith couldn't quite slot the conversion and Saints soon had to show their defensive edge as Toulon went on the charge in the home half.

The black, green and gold stood tall, with Sam Graham taking charge and grabbing the ball to frustrate the French giants.

Graham then had a chance to make an impact at the other end but after Tommy Freeman broke the away line, Graham's long pass was just behind Seabrook, who couldn't gather.

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Saints suffered an injury blow on 25 minutes as Hendy was forced off, unable to put any weight on his left leg after twisting his knee badly while making a tackle.

It didn't hamper the hosts immediately though as they were handed a penalty close to halfway and again took advantage by kicking to the corner.

Curtis Langdon made the initial inroads and then the ball was moved quickly again, allowing Smith to provide another moment of inspiration as he sent Furbank over.

Smith hit the left post with the conversion to leave the score at 10-3 but Saints were soon flying forward again as Furbank chased his own kick, forcing Toulon to scramble.

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The away side managed to escape as Furbank couldn't quite beat the defenders to the ball and the seven-point gap remained at the break.

Saints were under early pressure at the start of the second period, and they were soon dealt another big injury blow as Seabrook had to be helped from the field.

That brought Edinburgh loanee Savala into the action for his Saints debut and Toulon soon missed a chance to score as full-back Jaminet saw a pass hit his head as he dived to try to get it down.

Saints then held out with some superb defending after Toulon took a quick tap penalty but Courtney Lawes and Tom Pearson managed to hold them up over the line.

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Toulon had wasted their chance and they were soon under huge pressure at the other end of the field after Alex Mitchell produced a brilliant 50:22.

But this time, Saints were unable to make the most of their big chance, with the French side holding out with some stubborn defending.

Toulon worked their way upfield with a penalty and then opted for a shot at goal from just inside their own half, but Jaminet was short with his ambitious effort.

Jaminet made amends soon after though as Saints were submerged in their own half and Toulon took advantage, sending their full-back over out wide.

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Herve missed the conversion from the touchline and he was punished by Saints as they roared back into the game.

Freeman provided the spark, kicking ahead before showing incredible strength to push forward and somehow offload off the ground for the onrushing Furbank to dive over.

Smith missed the conversion from out wide to leave the gap at seven points and Saints lost a third wing on the night as Sleightholme was forced off, meaning James would have to come on to play on the wing.

Herve cut the gap to four points with a penalty and Toulon were looking hungry as they charged down Smith's attempted grubber and flew forward.

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Lawes made a huge try-saving tackle, but the away side stayed patient, working the ball for Ribbans to power over.

When Ribbans' name was announced, there were a few boos from the home fans before Herve sent the conversion horribly wide to leave the Saints deficit at a point.

Jaminet extended the lead to four points with a beautifully struck drop goal, and Saints were understandably looking tired.

They tried to respond with a surge into Toulon territory, but a forward pass ended the attack.

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Saints then went on the charge again, and Toulon infringed not once, but twice.

Mattéo Le Corvec made a high tackle on Savala out wide before play continued and Jeremy Sinzelle deliberately knocked the ball on, leaving Toulon to play the game out with 13 men.

Saints kicked to the corner and set up the final push, staying patient and keeping their cool as they held on to the ball before sending Lockett over in the corner.

There was a huge roar, and another when Smith slotted the conversion superbly from the touchline.

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But that noise was nothing compared to the cheer that followed the final whistle after Saints had gone through the phases from the kick-off before booting the ball out to put the seal on a truly memorable success.

Saints: Furbank; Seabrook (Savala 43), Freeman, Litchfield, Hendy (Sleightholme 26 (James 58)); F Smith, Mitchell; E Waller (Haffar 70), Langdon (S Matavesi 58), Davison (Hill 66); Mayanavanua (Lockett 58), Moon; Lawes, Pearson (Augustus 66), Graham.

Toulon: Jaminet; Fainga’anuku, Tuicuvu, Sinzelle, Villiere; Herve, White; Priso (Gros 45), Singleton (C Tolofua 45), Brookes (Setiano 62); Halagahu (Warion 69), Ribbans; Abadie (Le Corvec 51), Ollivon (c), Tolofua.

Referee: Craig Evans

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