Ma’a Nonu yellow card costs Toulon

Former All Black Ma'a Nonu's yellow card proved costly as Toulon crashed to a loss to French Top 14 champions Clermont Auvergne.

The 35-year-old midfielder was banished in the 39th minute for a shoulder charge on Clermont's English fullback Nick Abendanon on Sunday.

He joined lock Romain Taofifenua - sinbinned six minutes earlier for stamping on an opponent - in the cooler, leaving Toulon down to 13 men in the early season round two clash.

Clermont - who beat Toulon in the French Top 14 final last June - made the visitors pay with Fijian wing Alivereti Raka scoring after the halftime siren. They scored again through centre Damian Penaud in the 51st minute to extend their lead.

Toulon began brightly with English wing Chris Ashton scoring his third try in his two-game Top 14 career in the 17th minute. But they could not cross Clermont's line again.

Meanwhile, Todd Blackadder's Bath scored a gritty away win over Leicester in the English rugby premiership despite being down to 13 men in the final quarter.

Bath lost three players to yellow cards with two off the field at the same time, but they held on for a 27-23 win at Leicester's Welford Road stadium on Sunday (Monday NZ Time).

It proved a confidence boosting start to the season for Blackadder, Bath's director of rugby, and fellow ex-All Black Tabai Matson, his head coach after the Somerset club missed out on the playoffs last season.

Matson gave credit to the Bath pack, led by British and Irish Lions No 8 Taulupe Faletau.

"The forward pack gave a great platform for us and we'll walk away and realise what a significant performance this is," he told BBC Sport.

"You expect to be bullied at Welford Road and we stood up to them physically and then took our chances."

Leicester led 8-0 after Manu Tuilagi's try but Bath took a 21-8 lead into the halftime break after midfielder Max Clark grabbed a double and England wing Semesa Rokoduguni also dotted down.

England wing Jonny May - a controversial close season transfer from Gloucester - scored two tries on debut in the second half as Leicester mounted a comeback.

But Bath clung on, dominating the lineout where they were able to turn over some Leicester possession, and defending doggedly. 

Leicester coach Matt O'Connor told BBC Sport the Tigers "gave Bath too big a start".

"We did enough in the second half to snatch it but it probably wouldn't have been justified."

Photo by: ROMAIN PERROCHEAU/ GETTY IMAGES Caption: Former All Blacks star Ma'a Nonu now plays rugby for French club Toulon in the Top 14 competition.