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Matt Giteau earns praise in Toulon return

Press Association logoPress Association 15/01/2017

Matt Giteau has boosted Toulon in his return from a long injury lay-off as the French rugby side beat Sale in the European Champions Cup.

The 34-year-old Wallabies playmaker came off the bench in the second half having overcome a broken ankle suffered playing for Australia in the Rugby Championship in August.

The Top 14 side, also boasting former Wallabies James O'Connor at wing and flanker Liam Gill, scored two tries in the last four minutes to claim a 27-12 victory over the English side.

All Black Ma'a Nonu crossed early to give home side Toulon the lead at Stade Felix Mayol on Sunday (Monday morning AEDT).

But the Sharks quickly hit back through a converted Sam James score to take a 7-5 lead at the interval.

Toulon reclaimed their advantage through South African flyer Bryan Habana's try just before the hour and, with Sale responding immediately with their second try.

It was the star-studded French side who finished the stronger as Jonathan Pelissie and Josua Tuisova both touched down.

Sale boss Steve Diamond singled out opposition substitute Giteau in praising his side for their gallantry despite their 16th-straight Champions Cup defeat.

"The scoreline didn't reflect the game. The first 60-65 minutes it was a very good game, but their bench made the difference in the end," Diamond said.

"Matt Giteau came on and made a big difference for them, but there was a lot of pride in our performance."

Three-time winners Toulon meet Champions Cup holders Saracens next weekend and French centre Mathieu Bastareaud urged his side to improve.

"We were concentrating too much on the bonus point too soon. We played very poorly, especially in the first half," Bastareaud said.

"We have to be more disciplined and we have to make better use of our possession if we want to stay in this competition - we kicked too often and we weren't good at the breakdown."

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