‘King of Southmead’ Joe Joyce said the Bristol Bears’ European Challenge Cup win was the highlight of his career so far.

The Bears met Toulon at the Stade Maurice David in a game that saw them end their season by raising the trophy after a stunning 32-19 win in the south of France.

The Bears started strongly, leading with a try inside the first minute and going 10-0 up just three minutes later.

However, Toulon fought back to lead 16-10 at the break, after a try from Joyce was disallowed due to a marginal forward pass. It would arguably have been the ‘try of the season’ had it been allowed, with every player having a part in getting the ball across the line.

The second half saw a succession of penalties and the score line levelled at 19-19 before the Bears ratcheted up a gear and eventually beat the French side 32-19.

Bristol-born Joyce, who has been at the club for eight years, said the historic night was the greatest of his career.

Asked about his emotions on the night, Joyce said: “We always believed in the process.

“We stayed focused and it was just brilliant. We were so proud to represent Bristol.”

Joyce now turns his attention to next season, with the side having automatically qualified for the European Champions Cup.

“Being the upper tier is the best of the best, we will be going for that, to be the best in Europe.”

The star credited his long-term girlfriend Lauren and his family for keeping him grounded throughout his career and said his father could see his rugby potential before he could.

He added: “To any children playing sport, play to enjoy it. Stay humble and work hard.”

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