Wilkinson steers Toulon to Top 14 victory

Jonny Wilkinson kicked 18 points to help Toulon beat fellow big-spenders Racing-Metro 27-13 in the French  Top14 on Saturday, but the injury-plagued England fly-half was forced off the pitch with 20 minutes remaining.


Toulon, who held Stade Francais to a 22-22 draw last weekend, scored two tries with Welsh international centre Jamie Robinson opening his account after just two minutes with South African back-row forward Johann van Niekerk crossing on the stroke of half-time.


Wilkinson, who kicked 17 points against Stade in what his first match in 10 months, was replaced after 60 minutes with Sebastien Foque taking over the kicking duties.


By that stage, the Englishman had extended his team’s lead to 24-6.


Toulon hooker Sebastien Bruno said: “This win is reward for all the work we have done since the start of the season.”

 

Toulon, who battled relegation fears for most of last season, are fourth in the table behind Toulouse, Clermont and Castres.

Former Heineken Cup champions Toulouse, backed by the return of their battery of international talent, thumped Brive 38-0 to go top with tries from Cedric Heymans, Maxime Medard, Vincent Clerc and Remi Lamerat.


Clermont, defeated in the last three championship finals, also grabbed a winning bonus point thanks to a 37-16 win over Montauban with Anthony Floch grabbing a brace of tries with Aurelien Rougerie and Brent Russell also scoring.


Defending champions Perpignan slumped to a 18-12 loss at Montpellier in a dour struggle where the boot of fly-half Benoit Paillaugue proved more reliable than those of David Mele and Nicolas Laharrague who shared their side’s 12 points.


On Friday, Bayonne’s decision to switch their French Top14 clash to San Sebastian in Spain paid dividends when they ran in four tries to defeat Stade Francais 38-24, as the Paris giants were left searching for a first win this season.


Around 30,000 fans made the short trip across the border and they saw their side score three of their tries before the interval with full-back Jean-Baptiste Peyras-Loustalet and 20-year-old winger Benjamin Fall, adding a brace in the 18th and 38th minutes, to put the home side 19-18 ahead at the break.


Former London Wasps lock Tom Palmer and centre Geoffrey Messina kept Stade in touch.


Bayonne scrum-half Benat Arrayet, bought in from relegated Mont-de-Marsan in the summer, kicked four confident penalties after the interval to keep his side on track for a shock win which was secured by winger Pepito Elhorga’s last minute try.


“We weren’t bad, were we?” smiled Bayonne coach Richard Dourthe.


“Not everything was good. There were a few things that weren’t there this evening. But it was a gamble coming to Spain to play.


“The party can only get better with this victory.”

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