As the scoreline suggests, this was a tightly contested affair and the three-time champions secured the result courtesy of an 80th minute penalty from Francois Trinh-Duc with the final act of the match.
Just a minute earlier, Benetton thought they had secured an historic win when Ian McKinley slotted a penalty but the visitors showed great composure to launch a final attack before the hosts were penalised at a ruck just outside their 22 and Trinh-Duc held his nerve to add the match-winning points off the kicking tee.
The home side held a narrow 14-13 lead at the interval thanks to tries from Juan Ignacio Brex and Edoardo Gori and Toulon’s only try of the half was scored by Semi Radradra.
Toulon made a terrific start and opened the scoring as early as the second minute when Radradra glided through a gap and set off on a 40 metre run, before diving over in the right-hand corner for a deserved try.
Trinh-Duc showed his class as he slotted the conversion from close to the touchline and with the score at 7-0, Toulon supporters must have expected a few more tries to be scored by their players during the half.
That failed to materialise, however and five minutes later, Brex ran onto a delightful pass from Nasi Manu before scoring Benetton’s opening try.
McKinley added the extras which drew his side level but a Trinh-Duc penalty in the 11th minute put the visitors back in front. In the 28th minute, however, Benetton launched an attack inside Toulon’s 22, with Manu prominent again, and the ball was booted ahead before Gori dived onto it behind the visitors’ try-line.
McKinley converted again before Trinh-Duc added another penalty three minutes before half-time.
Shortly after the restart, McKinley extended the home side’s lead when he slotted another penalty after Guilhem Guirado was blown up for a ruck infringement.
Toulon continued to concede penalties but, crucially, Benetton did not capitalise and in the 45th minute the visitors regained the lead against the run of play.
This, when Josua Tuisova intercepted a wayward pass from Luca Sperandio, just inside Toulon’s half, and he raced a full 50 metres before crossing the whitewash.
Trinh-Duc and McKinley traded further penalties, which meant Toulon led 21-20 by the hour-mark, and the rest of the match was a slugfest as both sides went in search of victory.
The visitors extended their lead when Trinh-Duc landed another penalty before two further McKinley penalties gave Benetton a 26-24 buffer.
Another three-pointer from Trinh-Duc put the visitors back in front in the 71st minute before the late drama in the game’s dying moments saw the visitors leaving as victors, albeit by the narrowest of margins.