Wilkinson boots Toulon to victory over Cardiff

Former England fly half Jonny Wilkinson kicked Toulon to a 14-22 Heineken Cup Pool 6 victory over Cardiff Blues at Cardiff Arms Park.

Star-studded Toulon laboured past Cardiff Blues for their second win in two
outings in European Cup action on Sunday

Jonny Wilkinson kicked five penalties and a conversion for a personal haul
of 17 points as Toulon ran out 22-14 winners in Cardiff.

The French club’s sole try came from erstwhile England flanker Steffon Armitage
as a Blues side inspired by Wales trio Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert and Lou
Reed battled to keep the home side in the game.

Halfpenny opened the scoring with a surprise try in just the second minute,
making the most of a midfield defensive lapse by Australian Matt Giteau after
a nice inside pass from winger Tom James.

Wilkinson made no mistake with a simple penalty after 10 minutes and hit a
second soon after to move his side ahead, but the English star pushed a third
effort wide, as did Halfpenny with his first effort on the half-hour.

Toulon enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but seemed to lack any real gameplan,
with an overloaded midfield in which home centre Gavin Evans was stretchered
off after a high Delon Armitage tackle.

An opportunistic drop-goal by Wilkinson went wide, to cheers from the home
crowd, with the French side camped in the Blues 22m area.

With such a lack of ambition, the home side deserved to re-take the lead with
a Halfpenny penalty just before the break.

After a turnover, the Blues again put themselves on the front foot, Halfpenny
tracking down an isolated Giteau but slipped as he attempted the resulting penalty.

Wilkinson made no such mistake when next up in front of Cardiff’s posts, but
Halfpenny dragged the hosts back into the game with a penalty with 20 minutes
to play.

The French side immediately fired back, however, France scrum-half Frederic
Michalak overseeing a series of midfield attacks, with Steffon Armitage eventually
crashing over after a break by Giteau, Wilkinson converting.

Going into the final minutes, Halfpenny kicked his third penalty to ensure
a nerve-racking finale.

But a basic ruck infringement handed Toulon the advantage from the re-start,
and Wilkinson booted a simple penalty to wrap up an afternoon the French side
made much more difficult for themselves than had seemed warranted.

Final Score Cardiff Blues (8) 14 Toulon (6) 22


Cardiff Blues
Try: Halfpenny
Pens: Halfpenny 3

Try: S Armitage
Con: Wilkinson
Pens: Wilkinson 5

Match Officials
George Clancy (Ire),
Assistant ref: Michael Black,
Assistant ref: Jonathan Peake,
TMO: Marshall Kilgore,
Citing Commissioner: Mike Rafter

Cardiff Blues: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Gavin Evans, Jamie Roberts, Tom James; Ceri Sweeney, Lloyd Williams; Taufa’ao Filise, Marc Breeze, Benoit Bourrust, Bradley Davies, Lou Reed, Josh Navidi, Sam Warburton, Andries Pretorius (c).

Replacements: Andy Kyriacou, Nathan Trevett, Scott Andrews, James Down, Robin Copeland, Lewis Jones, Jason Tovey, Dafydd Hewitt.

Toulon: Delon Armitage; Vincent Martin, Mathieu Bastareaud, Matt Giteau, David Smith; Jonny Wilkinson (c), Frederic Michalak; Gethin Jenkins, Mickael Ivaldi, Davit Kubriashvili, Bakkies Botha, Jocelino Suta, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Steffon Armitage, Chris Masoe.

Replacements: Jean Charles Orioli, Andrew Sheridan, Carl Hayman, Pierrick Gunther, Maxime Mermoz, Benjamin Lapeyre, Nicolas Durand, Simon Shaw.

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