Wilkinson try gives Toulon bonus point victory

Former England flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson scored a second half try to earn Toulon a bonus point in their 32-20 Pool 2 Heineken Cup victory over Exeter on Saturday at Stade Felix Mayol.

The 34-year-old former England fly-half came on with just over 20 minutes remaining and the match evenly-balanced at 18-13 in Toulon’s favour, but took the game away from his compatriots creating a try and then scoring one himself.

Toulon had got off to a good start.

A swift passing movement down the blindside involving Matt Giteau, Alexis Palisson and Maxime Mermoz released David Smith down the left wing and he finished it off in style for their first try in the 12th minute.

Exter, though, struck back as they won a Toulon line-out and got the ball out to the left wing where Tom James beat Palisson’s high tackle and then broke Drew Mitchell’s tackle before handing off to Don Armand, who brushed aside Sebastien Tillous-Borde to touch down — Henry Slade converted for a 7-5 lead in the 19th minute.

Palisson had to go off with what looked like a dislocated left shoulder, team-mate Chris Masoe had departed a few minutes earlier, and was replaced by Delon Armitage. Giteau — who was selected ahead of Wilkinson — subsequently missed a relatively easy penalty but redeemed himself by creating Smith’s second try, although there was a suspicion of his decisive pass being forward.

Nevertheless the try was awarded after a video review and Giteau landed his first kick of the day for 12-7.

He added a penalty shortly before half-time but Slade replied for Exeter with one of his own to leave the visitors only 15-10 down at the break — alarmingly for Toulon the boos rang out as they walked off.

Giteau and Slade exchanged penalties in the opening 16 minutes of the second-half to leave the game finely-balanced but to the home supporters’ relief Wilkinson was sent on by Bernard Laporte just before the hour mark.

That paid off almost immediately as he produced a great offload to Mitchell to set up their third try with 15 minutes remaining, the Australian fullback breaking Slade’s tackle before coming to ground five metres out — but the ball was worked out to replacement prop Xavier Chiocci who crashed over.

Giteau added the extra points to give Toulon a 25-13 lead.

Toulon supporters showered the ground with paper in celebration when Wilkinson touched down under the posts to give the hosts a bonus point and Giteau added the conversion for 32-13.

Exeter got a consolation try two minutes from time as Ben White went over with Ceri Sweeney adding the extras.

Saturday’s other early match saw Ulster overcome pea soup fog conditions to thump Treviso 35-3, although they had to wait till the 77th minute for the bonus point as fullback Jared Payne scored their fourth try.

The visitors benefited from the Italians playing for 20 minutes of the second-half with 14 men as first Brendan Williams and then Luke McLean were sin-binned.

Final Score Toulon (15) 32 Exeter (10) 20


Tries: Smith 2, Chiocci, Wilkinson
Con: Giteau 3
Pen: Giteau 2

Try: Armand, White
Con: Slade, Sweeny
Pen: Slade 2

Match Officials
John Lacey (Ireland),
Assistant ref: David Wilkinson (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Michael Black (Ireland),
TMO: Dermot Moloney (Ireland),
Citing Commissioner: Maurizio Vancini (Italy)


Toulon: Drew Mitchell; Alexis Palisson, Mathieu Bastareaud, Maxime Mermoz, David Smith; Ma

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