Munster’s Champions Cup quarter-final opponents Toulon look extremely fired up for next week’s Thomond Park showdown if Sunday’s result is anything to go by.
English winger Chris Ashton equalled the record for tries scored in a French Top 14 season when he registered his 21st of the campaign in Toulon’s 49-0 rout of Clermont.
Ashton, who will turn 31 on Thursday, matched the record of Fiji’s Napolioni Nalaga, set in 2008-2009 while playing for Clermont.
He reached the mark in the 19th minute of Sunday’s game as Toulon ran in seven tries which condemned defending champions Clermont to missing out on the play-offs this season.
Despite being on a run of three successive wins in March and welcomimg back scrum-half Morgan Parra (out since January) and fly-half Camille Lopez (injured in October), Clermont were ripped to shreds by the three-time European champions.
Toulon, shocked 29-26 by Oyannax last weekend, were already 35-0 up by the break and romped home with Eric Escande, Romain Taofifenua, Josua Tuisova, Malakai Fekitoa (two) and Mamuka Gorgodze joining Ashton on the scoresheet.
“We can’t say that we expected this, scoring 49 points but it’s what we’re aiming for,” said Toulon coach Fabien Galthie.
“We must remember how we played in the first half — it was remarkable.”
Munster also prepared for next weekend by recording a victory, Johann van Graan’s side coming from behind to carve out a hard-fought win against Welsh side Scarlets in Saturday evening’s Pro14 encounter in Limerick.
© Agence France-Presse (with additional edits from Simon O’Keeffe)