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Booth heralds vintage Wilkinson

Jonny Wilkinson put the boot into London Irish's Heineken Cup hopes - but he still earned a glowing tribute from Exiles boss Toby Booth.

England star Wilkinson kicked 14 points as Toulon carved out a crucial 19-13 Pool Three victory over Irish at the Madejski Stadium. It means Irish's quarter-final chances will effectively end if they do not win the return fixture in France next weekend, and they could finish second again if Wilkinson delivers another fly-half masterclass.

"He didn't look on the decline to me," said Booth, in praise of Wilkinson, who is currently England's back-up number 10 behind Toby Flood. "In a tight game, they have a 100% kicker and we don't. That is the nature of it."

Booth continued: "He stopped George Stowers at full bore 10 metres from the line, and (he did the same to) Seilala Mapasua.

"He is probably like fine wine - he is actually getting better."

Toulon captain Joe Van Niekerk added: "(Wilkinson) is a genius. He is constantly kicking three points and keeping the scoreboard ticking. What more do you want from a 10 who keeps it rolling, puts pressure on opposition and we can build from the back of it from there."

Irish have now lost six successive games in all competitions, but Booth claims his players will relish the opportunity that awaits them next Saturday at Stade Felix-Mayol.

"London Irish don't like doing things the easy way," he added.

"Leinster away last year, no-one gave us a chance (Irish won 12-9). This is a ready-made opportunity to go and upset the apple cart."


From Belfast Telegraph