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Etzebeth makes back-row debut, Toulon rise to third after beating Stade Francais

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Stade Francais flanker Gerbrandt Grobler (right) vies with Toulon lock Eben Etzebeth (left) in the French Top14 rugby union match both teams at Mayol stadium in Toulon on Sunday. AFP

Etzebeth makes back-row debut, Toulon rise to third after beating Stade Francais

South Africa’s Rugby World Cup winner Eben Etzebeth started the first game of his career at blindside flanker in Toulon’s 35-13 victory at home over 14-man Stade Francais on January 24.

Argentina fly-half Nicholas Sanchez was shown a red card on the stroke of half-time after making contact with the head of the home side’s Baptiste Serin at a ruck.

The three-time European champions climbed up to third place as the visitors remain in eighth, five points away from the play-offs.

Etzebeth was moved from lock by the hosts’ coach Patrice Collazo minutes before kick-off as Swann Rebbadj pulled out in the warm-up.

The Parisians’ coach Gonzalo Quesada made 10 alterations from the loss at Toulouse earlier this month.

Collazo’s men led 15-6 just after the half-hour mark as Nonu’s fellow ex-All Black Isaia Toeava and France fly-half Louis Carbonel crossed.

Carbonel added to his account for proceedings with the resulting penalty and his side led 18-6 at the interval.

During the first half, France captain Charles Ollivon left the field and failed a head injury assessment after a collision with opposition back-rower Antoine Burban.

Collazo’s side made the most of the one-man advantage and claimed a bonus point in the second half thanks to tries from hooker Christopher Tolofua and winger Bryce Heem.

Lester Etien claimed his seventh try of the season with a consolation effort for the capital city club before Etzebeth completed the full 80 minutes on his 20th appearance for Toulon.

Earlier, former New Zealand back-rower Luke Whitelock scored his first Pau try in the 32-27 loss to Brive.

Etzebeth’s fellow World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe made his injury return as Toulouse hammered bottom side Agen 59-0 on January 24.

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