Etzebeth makes back-row debut as Toulon rise to third with Stade Francais win

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Paris (AFP)

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 Sunday.

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.

An apologetic Sanchez was sent off in the final play of the half after his shoulder made contact with Serin's head while attempting to make a clear out at a breakdown.

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.

- Kolbe back -

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

On Saturday, Etzebeth's fellow World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe made his injury return as Toulouse moved back to the top of the table with a 59-0 hammering at bottom side Agen.

Earlier, France centre Virimi Vakatawa suffered a knee injury in Racing 92's 33-32 defeat to Bordeaux-Begles and was replaced in the Six Nations squad by Lyon's 22-year-old midfielder Pierre-Louis Barassi.

Reports claimed Vakatawa will be out for at least a month and will miss next week's training camp in Nice.