Toulon’s English international winger Chris Ashton set a Top 14 record on Saturday when he scored his 22nd try of the season as the three-time European champions stunned leaders Montpellier 32-17.
The 31-year-old Ashton touched down in the seventh minute in Marseille after a pass from former All Black centre Ma’a Nonu, completing a move started by Facundo Isa and Semi Radradra.
For the last three weeks, Ashton, who left Saracens for France last summer, had been tied with Fijian Napolioni Nalaga, who scored 21 tries for Clermont in 2008-2009.
Toulon scored all of their four tries in the first half with Radrada, skipper Mathieu Bastareaud and Isa adding to Ashton’s opener.
Montpellier would have wrapped up a semi-final place with victory but Vern Cotter’s side had to settle for a second-half rally with Gabriel Ngandebe and Kelian Galletier adding to centre Vincent Martin’s 34th-minute score.
Toulon, coached by former Montpellier boss Fabien Galthie, stayed comfortably on course for the playoffs with just two matches left in the regular season.
Victory came at a cost, however, with influential fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc forced off after just 11 minutes with a shoulder injury after being crunched by Montpellier prop Davit Kubriashvili who earned a yellow card for his troubles.
French international skipper Guilhem Guirado was then forced off after just 20 minutes with knee ligament damage.
eba/pyv/dj/dmc (Additional edits by Sean McMahon)
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