Toulon captain Baptiste Serin says Cheslin Kolbe brings “serenity to the team” even though the Springbok winger was unable to inspire them to victory on his Top 14 bow for the club on Sunday.
The 28-year-old 2019 World Cup champion moved to Toulon for a reported €1.8 million (R31m) from Toulouse in August.
The loss to Stade Francais in Paris kept Toulon in 13th place, the relegation playoff spot, but they have three games in hand over Perpignan in 12th. Victory lifted the home side to 10th.
Kolbe started behind a pack which included former Parisian Sergio Parisse as the 38-year-old seeks to prove his fitness over the next three weeks before a potential Test return with Italy in the upcoming Six Nations.
Kolbe had played for Toulon in the European Challenge Cup win over Zebre Parma in December.
“He’s a guy who plays right, he brings a lot of serenity to the team. Cheslin’s only played two matches, we have to be patient with Cheslin,” Serin told reporters.
“We know his ability with one-on-ones, he won all of them tonight,” he added.
By the time the Kolbe got his first touch in the league, his team already trailed after home flyhalf Joris Segonds kicked a second-minute penalty.
The visitors responded with two tries. After 11 minutes, Kolbe’s fellow back-three player and Tokyo 2020 gold medallist scored his first try for Toulon.
Segonds peppered Kolbe with kicks. The fullback responded by setting up Toulon’s second try just after the quarter. His goose-step took him outside his defender before he fed Aymeric Luc, who found Baptiste Serin with an inside pass for the scrumhalf to cross. Louis Carbonel kicked the conversion to make it 14-3.
Stade hit back as Samoan prop Moses Alo-Emile claimed his first try for the club. Segonds slotted the extras after half an hour.
Carbonel kicked a penalty with five minutes left of the half and the away side led 17-10 at the break.
No 8 Parisse was replaced with 25 minutes remaining and applauded off the field in the capital city, where he spent 14 seasons with Stade. He is expected to retire at the end of the campaign.
Segonds closed the gap to four points with 18 minutes left with a penalty before being replaced by Argentina flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez.
With a quarter of an hour to play Stade Francais retook the lead as club veteran Antoine Burban crashed over.
Sanchez succeeded with the conversion and then with two later penalties as the home side had a 26-17 advantage going into the final five minutes.
Toulon pressed for a try to claim a bonus point and Serin turned provider three minutes into added time to set up Dorian Laborde.
Earlier, Pau beat Clermont 28-20 and on Saturday Racing overcame Toulouse 20-15 in the champions’ backyard as the likes of France’s World Player of the Year Antoine Dupont and Les Bleus flyhalf Romain Ntamack made their return from Covid-19 a week out from the start of the Six Nations.
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