Bath Rugby are left with a tough task in Europe after slipping to a narrow defeat at Toulon but head coach Mike Ford was left with nothing but pride for his charges in the south of France.
Last year’s Aviva Premiership Rugby finalists lost 12-9 to the European Rugby Champions Cup holders, fly-half George Ford slotting and penalty and two drop-goals for the visitors.
Eventually they were beaten by a Frederic Michalak penalty five minutes from time, leaving Bath third in Pool 4 with nine points under their belt and two games left to play.
Ford junior impressed alongside half-back partner Chris Cook, while captain Stuart Hooper led by example from second row, but ultimately the reigning champions were just too good.
“The boys were on edge,” said head coach Ford. "It was a tough game and if you're not mentally there and ready to play you can talk about all the tactics and execution you want.
"It's a very passionate sport. I said in the huddle after the game how proud I was of them. We need to bottle that edge for the rest of the season. It's hard for a coach to instil that within a player. That needs to come from within and we need to replicate that more often.
"The stint they put in, especially Stuart the captain, to last 80 minutes, was phenomenal. Hoops has an unbelievable effect on the side and he says the right things at the right times.”
The result was made all the more frustrating for the boss by the fact that he felt Bath had done enough to win the match and close the gap to pool leaders Wasps.
Next up they will travel to Leinster on Saturday before rounding off the pool when Toulon come to the Rec the following weekend.
"I thought we did enough to win," added Ford. "We just couldn't pull away. I thought our backs defence was brilliant, but Toulon are very experienced. They've won this competition three times.
"They got on the right side of the referee here, in a hostile environment, but we're not out of the competition yet.
"Obviously, we now need to win our remaining matches and pick up a bonus point or two in the last two games."
Toulon 12 Bath Rugby 9
Penalties: Escande 3, Michalak
Drop goals: Ford 2
Referee: George Clancy