Toulon 19 London Irish 18
London Irish head coach Les Kiss was not surprised by an astonishing individual try scored by teenager Henry Arundell in their 19-18 European Challenge Cup quarter-final defeat to Toulon in France on Sunday afternoon.
While the Exiles went out in agonising fashion, Arundell claimed the champagne moment with a try from just short of 100 metres that will be talked about for years to come.
The 19-year old received a pass just in front of his own try-line in the 75th minute before embarking on a swerving jet-heeled counterattack that saw him cut through the entire Toulon team and go all the way to the right corner for the score.
Had flyhalf Paddy Jackson nailed the difficult touchline conversion Irish would have pinched the victory, but his effort sailed well wide.
Former Ulster coach Kiss said of Arundell: “He makes people make defensive errors. He is a good lad, a level-headed lad.
“We weren’t surprised when that happened, we know what’s possible with him.
"For Henry, Will Joseph, Tom Pearson, Juan Gonzalez. there's four young guys who have got a taste of European rugby in one of the toughest cauldrons. That's great for us and it was great to see Henry do what he did today."
Kiss rued errors "in the middle period" of a match which had seen the Exiles go into a 10-0 lead in as many minutes after a blistering start was rewarded with a pushover try by number eight Albert Tuisue.
But while the visitors continued to frustrate the Stade Felix Mayol crowd with an organised and committed performance, they were unable to prevent Toulon from gradually gaining the upper hand.
A try from captain Charles Ollivon on the hour mark was crucial, with flyhalf Louis Carbonel adding the rest of the hosts' points with the boot.
Irish were left to rue yellow cards for hooker Agustin Creevy and Gonzalez in the 36th and 50th minutes respectively, Creevy's for pulling the hair of Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth and Gonzalez for a high tackle on Carbonel.
Kiss added: “We made a good start, probably the middle period we made too many errors. The penalty count was too high in that period and it put us on the back foot.
“We tried to finish strongly, but we just couldn’t get there in the end.
“They are a tough team on their home turf and you have to give them credit. They got done what they needed to get done and squeezed us there at the end.
“There were a couple of things we could have done better but I was happy with the way we went at the game and attacked it.
“We just couldn’t hold their power out.”