Northampton defied a succession of injuries and a determined Toulon to register a 22-19 Investec Champions Cup victory at Franklin’s Gardens.
Saints led for most of the match until their former second row David Ribbans, who departed the east Midlands at the end of last season, went over in the 66th minute to give the Top 14’s second-placed side the lead.
Wings Tom Seabrook and George Hendy had been lost to knee problems in each half and shortly after the break there was also the worrying sight of scrum-half Fin Smith receiving treatment. To compound an alarming night on the injury front, Hendy’s replacement Ollie Sleightholme limped off as well.
But the pendulum swung when Toulon had Mattéo Le Corvec and Jérémy Sinzelle were sent to the sin-bin in the same passage of play, leaving them to complete the last five minutes with only 13 men.
It proved too big a challenge as Northampton broke through soon after when replacement lock Tom Lockett fell over the line in the right corner with Smith converting.
Courtney Lawes was outstanding for the home side as they made it two from two in this season’s Champions Cup, lifting the record of Premiership clubs to eight wins in nine games. Lawes, the man of the match, made several important contributions and was at his best in defence when Toulon’s fightback gathered momentum.
Full-back George Furbank finished with two tries, showing his strength for the second score.