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Page last updated at 17:15 GMT, Saturday, 22 January 2011

Heineken Cup: Ospreys 29-17 Toulon

Ospreys (9) 29
Try: Walker, Alun Wyn Jones Cons: Hook 2 Pens: Biggar 3, Hook 2
Toulon (14) 17
Tries: Lamont, Henjak Cons: Wilkinson 2 Pens: Wilkinson

Alun Wyn Jones charges through
Ospreys captain Alun Wyn Jones shows his European frustrations

The Ospreys ended their disappointing Heineken Cup campaign on a high as the Welsh region extended a proud European home record to beat French side Toulon.

Jonny Wilkinson's side raced into an early lead as a superb try from Rory Lamont and another from Matt Henjak put the under-strength visitors in charge.

The hosts hit back and returning wing Shane Williams set up Nikki Walker with a deft flick to touch down for Ospreys.

Alun Wyn Jones bulldozed over to extend their five-year unbeaten home record.

The Ospreys, undefeated in Europe at the Liberty Stadium since December 2005, were already eliminated following their defeat at London Irish last week in the 'pool of death.'

And Scott Johnson's side showed their frustrations late on to come back and defeat the big-spending French side, who had already qualified for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals, with a dominant second-half display.

But Munster's 28-14 triumph against the Exiles means the Ospreys finished a disappointing third in Pool Three - therefore missing out on the consolation prize of qualification for the second-tier Amlin Challenge Cup.

Toulon, however, began brighter at a freezing Liberty Stadium and raced into a 14-3 lead inspired by Lamont's ninth-minute try.

Dan Biggar had punished some French indiscipline to put the hosts in front but Wilkinson fed centre Mafi Kefu at the base of the scrum. His elusive run freed Lamont and the Scottish full-back eased past Biggar to dive over in the corner.

Skipper Henjak extended their advantage as he powered over the Ospreys line from close in after good work by number eight Fotu Auelua. Wilkinson, as he did with Lamont's try, converted with aplomb.

Two Biggar penalties kept the Ospreys in touch but the error-strewn hosts were the architects of their own first-half downfall with poor tactical kicking, missed tackles and poor concentration.

But just when it seemed as if a difficult week was in danger of going further downhill, the Ospreys turned on the style - perfectly emphasising their Jekyll and Hyde nature in a microcosm of their inconsistencies this season.

Richard Fussell should have scored just after the break after Lee Byrne kept in Biggar's long, floating pass but the Ospreys wing could not touch the ball down after barging over the line.

The video referee confirmed that Wilkinson had kept the ball off the turf - emphasising his defensive qualities as well as his obvious kicking attributes.

But England's iconic fly-half, who had kicked seven points for a Toulon team showing 14 changes from last week, had been withdrawn when rugby's other superstar Williams came off the bench to help inspire the Ospreys comeback.

The Wales and Ospreys record try-scorer had only been on the pitch for four minutes - returning after more than two months out following shoulder surgery - when a trademark bit of magic set up Walker's try.

Scrum-half Mike Phillips, another replacement, fed Williams and his darting run across the front of the Toulon defence tempted three tacklers before he flicked the ball straight into Walker's path, giving the Scotsman a clear run-in from close-range.

Williams's contribution would have pleased watching Wales coach Warren Gatland less then two weeks before their Six Nations opener against England in Cardiff on 4 February.

Then skipper Wyn Jones charged over from a rolling maul with four minutes remaining to exorcise some of their European demons that had surfaced following their shock exit at Irish.

James Hook converted, adding to his two earlier penalties, to extend their Heineken Cup home record for another season and restore a little pride.

Ospreys: Byrne, N. Walker, Parker, Hook, Fussell, Biggar, Webb, D. Jones, Hibbard, Mitchell, Gough, A. Jones, R. Jones, Tipuric, Thomas.
Replacements: Williams for Fussell (57), Beck for Biggar (57), M. Phillips for Webb (57), Bevington for D. Jones (50), Bennett for Hibbard (69), Collins for Gough (58). Not Used: Griffiths, Holah.

Toulon: Lamont, Lapyeyre, Messina, Kefu, Brana, Wilkinson, Henjak, Taumoepeau, Genevois, Hayman, Suta, Senekal, Missoup, Sourice, Auelua.
Replacements: El Abd for Kefu (56), May for Wilkinson (56), Magnaval for Henjak (63), Basteres for Taumoepeau (58), Ivaldi for Genevois (61), Chesney for Senekal (52).Not Used: Merabet, Samson.

Attendance: 10,192

Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU).

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see also
Munster 28-14 London Irish
22 Jan 11 |  Rugby Union
London Irish 24-12 Ospreys
16 Jan 11 |  Rugby Union
Toulon 32-16 Munster
16 Jan 11 |  Rugby Union
Williams recovery boost for Wales
12 Jan 11 |  Welsh
Ospreys 19-15 Munster
18 Dec 10 |  Rugby Union
Toulon 38-17 London Irish
18 Dec 10 |  Rugby Union
London Irish 13-19 Toulon
12 Dec 10 |  Rugby Union
Munster 22-16 Ospreys
12 Dec 10 |  Rugby Union
Ospreys 27-16 London Irish
15 Oct 10 |  Ospreys
Munster 45-18 Toulon
16 Oct 10 |  Munster
Toulon 19-14 Ospreys
09 Oct 10 |  Ospreys

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