Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Wilkinson boots Toulon to victory

Jonny Wilkinson kicked 17 points as Toulon made it two wins from two in Pool Six of the Heineken Cup with a bruising 22-14 win over Cardiff Blues at the Arms' Park.

The Blues, playing their first European game at their traditional home since 2009, made a superb start when Leigh Halfpenny went over for the opening try inside two minutes.

The Welsh side's magnificent defence flustered the visitors, but their power eventually told. Wilkinson kicked five penalties and converted man-of-the-match Steffon Armitage's try, meaning Halfpenny's three penalties were not good enough for a losing bonus point for the Blues.

But the game's major talking point involved Armitage's brother Delon, who escaped without receiving a card for a high no-arms tackle on Blues' centre Gavin Evans during the first half. The England full-back led with his shoulder and caught the Cardiff centre, who was stretchered off and sent to hospital for checks, on the head.

While Evans did stumble as he reached Armitage, who has had his fair share of disciplinary issues over the past two seasons, the Toulon man made no effort to wrap his arms around his opponent to complete a legal tackle and it was a surprise when referee George Clancy allowed him to remain on the field.

Prior to the controversy, Cardiff had made a perfect start through Halfpenny. From a scrum on halfway, Alex Cuthbert came round to make the extra man and Ceri Sweeney's cut-out pass freed Tom James on the left. The wing kept his composure to feed inside to Halfpenny who crossed in the corner.

Wilkinson responded with a penalty after Toulon had made a mess of a Blues scrum, and another display of forward power, this time from a rolling maul, yielded a second three-pointer for the former England fly-half.

Halfpenny sent over a penalty from 40 metres out to give the Blues a two-point lead at the break but Wilkinson put Toulon back in front as he slotted his third penalty within two minutes of the resumption.

Wilkinson added another three points to make it 12-8, only for Halfpenny to reply in kind with 18 minutes to play but Toulon landed the killer blow just two minutes later. Centres Mathieu Bastareaud and Matt Giteau made inroads into the Blues' 22, and Steffon Armitage was the beneficiary as he forced his way over from close range, with Wilkinson adding the extras.

Halfpenny trimmed the gap, but Wilkinson's fifth and final penalty denied Cardiff a losing bonus point.


From Belfast Telegraph