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Wilko boots Toulon into Heineken Cup final


Jonny Wilkinson kicked Toulon into their first Heineken Cup final

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Article Published: Monday 29 April 2013


Former England star Jonny Wilkinson kicked seven penalties and a drop goal to put Toulon in the Heineken Cup final against Clermont.

The 18th Heineken Cup final, to be played at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin on Saturday, 18 May (17.00), will be between ASM Clermont Auvergne and Toulon.

Wilkinson marked what could be his final appearance at Twickenham by kicking all of Toulon's points as they beat Saracens 24-12 on Sunday to set up an all-French Heineken Cup final .

England great Wilkinson, in his first appearance at Twickenham in nearly two years, landed all seven of his penalty attempts as well as a typically brilliant late drop-goal reminiscent of the score that downed Australia in the 2003 World Cup final.

"It was great to come out on top against a team like Saracens - it's a big thing for us," Wilkinson told Sky Sports.

"It didn't go fantastically well for us and we didn't do some of the things we wanted to do, but it was all about fighting hard until the last minute and hanging on. Spirit and determination got us there."

Wilkinson's points made sure Toulon's forward dominance was rewarded in front of a crowd including British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland, who names his squad for Australia on Tuesday.

Gatland has indicated he won't select French-based players but Wilkinson's performance, which included some neat touches in open play, may force a re-think by the New Zealander.

"There's young players like Owen Farrell and Toby Flood for England, Dan Biggar for Wales and Ireland's Jonny Sexton, who are taking rugby forward and it's their era," said a modest Wilkinson.

"I want those guys to experience that because they deserve it. I'm digging my fingernails in and hanging on really."

Saracens captain Steve Borthwick, a former England team-mate of Wilkinson's, added: "We made too many errors and with Jonny Wilkinson kicking every penalty it is really difficult."

Victory kept Toulon, last season's losing European Challenge Cup finalists, on course for a domestic Top 14 and European Cup double this term.

They will face Clermont, 16-10 winners over Irish province Munster on Saturday, at Dublin's Lansdowne Road on May 18 in a first European Cup final for both French sides.

Toulon, coached by former France boss Bernard Laporte, turned round with a 12-9 half-time lead after Wilkinson kicked four penalties to three from Saracens' Owen Farrell, who missed with his fourth attempt.

In a match where no tries were scored, Saracens fashioned a couple of chances but couldn't take them.

This semi-final was billed as a clash between the 33-year-old Wilkinson, England's record points scorer and the fly-half pivot of the 2003 World Cup-winning team, and the 21-year-old Farrell, the current Red Rose stand-off.

The two outside-halves exchanged penalties early on before Toulon made Saracens stand up at a scrum and Wilkinson duly obliged from 39 metres out on the right touchline.

In the 16th minute Toulon came close to a try when Wilkinson found Australia's Matt Giteau, who delivered a well-timed inside pass to Alexis Palisson.

The wing kicked ahead but, unfortunately for Toulon, the ball bounced 'dead' just before former England full-back Delon Armitage could touch down.

But a late tackle by Farrell on Palisson saw Toulon awarded another penalty and Wilkinson duly obliged.

Another penalty exchange between Farrell and Wilkinson left Toulon 12-6 up.

Sarries did reduce Toulon's lead when Scotland's Kelly Brown and Farrell forced a turnover against France centre Mathieu Bastareaud, with Farrell landing the ensuing penalty before he was off-target from halfway with the last kick of the half.

Toulon's pack forced a scrum penalty in the 46th minute and Wilkinson kicked his club into a 15-9 lead.

However, Toulon were reduced to 14 men in the 48th minute when Danie Rossouw was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle on Mako Vunipola and Farrell landed the resulting penalty.

After a surge by England prop Mako Vunipola, Saracens thought they had a try when Brown went in at the right corner but Farrell's preceding pass was ruled forward by Irish referee Alain Rolland.

Minutes later Wilkinson, from just inside his own half, produced a superb penalty kick to take Toulon six points in front.

Toulon then saw wing Rudi Wulf fail to find Bastareaud when a try loomed before Wilkinson's brilliant drop-goal, under pressure, secured victory.

And there was still time left for him to land a penalty that put the result beyond doubt.

Final Score Saracens (9) 12 Toulon (12) 24

Scorers

Saracens
Pens: Farrell 4

Toulon
Pens: Wilkinson 7
Drop-goal: Wilkinson

Match Officials
Referee:
Alain Rolland (Ire),
Assistant ref: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ire),
Assistant ref: Andrew McMenemy (Sco),
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ire),
Citing Commissioner: Denis Templeton (Ire)

Teams

Saracens: Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Joel Tomkins, Brad Barritt, David Strettle; Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth; Mako Vunipola, Schalk Brits, Matt Stevens, Steve Borthwick (c), Alistair Hargreaves, Jackson Wray, Kelly Brown, Ernst Joubert.

Replacements: John Smit, Rhys Gill, Carlos Nieto, Mouritz Botha, George Kruis, Neil de Kock, Charlie Hodgson, Chris Wyles.

Toulon: Delon Armitage; Rudi Wulf, Mathieu Bastareaud, Matt Giteau, Alexis Palisson; Jonny Wilkinson (c), Sebastien Tillous-Borde; Andrew Sheridan, Sebastien Bruno, Carl Hayman, Bakkies Botha, Nick Kennedy, Danie Rossouw, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Chris Masoe.

Replacements: Jean Charles Orioli, Gethin Jenkins, Davit Kubriashvili, Joe Van Niekerk, Steffon Armitage, Maxime Mermoz, Frederic Michalak, Jocelino Suta.

 

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