Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Wilkinson inspires Toulon to win

Jonny Wilkinson
Jonny Wilkinson

Jonny Wilkinson inflicted more misery on London Irish as he guided Toulon to a 19-13 Heineken Cup victory at the Madejski Stadium.

The England fly-half kicked four penalties and a conversion to Rudi Wulf's brilliantly executed try as Toulon condemned Irish to a sixth straight defeat.

Toby Booth's side had reduced the arrears to 13-10 with a try from Delon Armitage and a Ryan Lamb penalty but in the end they had to settle for a losing bonus point.

Irish are not out of the qualification hunt yet - but they will need to end their losing run in the south of France next weekend, which will be a tall order.

Toulon applied early pressure and won two penalties in quick succession, which Wilkinson kicked to edge the big-spending French side ahead.

And from a handling error Toulon pounced to finally score the opening try they deserved.

Wilkinson seized possession from Seilala Mapasua's mistake and from there Toulon counter-attacked with precision. The ball was moved wide for Johann van Niekerk, who linked first with Gabiriele Lovobalavu and then former New Zealand wing Wulf, who streaked clear to touch down under the posts.

But Sailosi Tagicakibau then carried the ball up to halfway before slipping a delightful one-handed off-load to Chris Hala'ufia, who in turn fed Elvis Seveali'i. Jonathan Joseph carried the attack down the right wing and then popped a pass off the ground for Delon Armitage, who kicked ahead and won the footrace to touch down.

Lamb's touchline conversion reduced Toulon's lead to 13-7 at the interval.

Steffon Armitage then just failed to pick out Tagicakibau with a try begging and the Exiles had to settle eventually for another Lamb penalty before Wilkinson struck two of his own to secure Toulon the victory.

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