Toulon consolidated their lead in the Top 14 standings for another week on Saturday with a 43-11 demolition of Stade FranÃ§ais.
Toulon consolidated their spot at the summit of the Top 14 standings for another week on Saturday with a 43-11 demolition of Stade FranÃ§ais.
Under a closed roof at Grand Stade Lille MÃ©tropole, Toulon led 19-6 at half time before breaking clear with three tries in the last 25 minutes.
Jonny Wilkinson kicked 17 points for Toulon as the league leaders ended a four-match losing streak away from home.
The former England fly-half – who confirmed reports he was all set to extend his contract with Toulon for another year – kicked seven from seven while his side ran in four tries in the first Top 14 match to be played in Lille.
Defeat for Stade means for the fourth season running they will not contest the end of season title play-offs.
“The pressure was on us against a good side but we responded to the challenge perfectly,” said Wilkinson.
“We are almost there with regards to extending my stay and I have said all season if I thought I could contribute something to the team next season I wanted to stay.
“I love playing with really good players and good coaches and that is what we have here,” added the 33-year-old, who has been there since 2009.
Wilkinson got the first score on the board in the seventh minute with a penalty after Stade's kicker Jules Plisson had missed an opportunity down the other end.
Wilkinson added another penalty in the 19th minute but Plisson reduced the deficit to three points (6-3) a few minutes later.
The inimitable Wilkinson then made it 9-3 with an impeccable drop goal -a league-leading eighth of the season – from distance in the 26th minute.
RCT extended their lead further in the 30th minute as Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe touched down after the try had been created by a delightful kick by Alexis Palisson behind a virtually non-existent Stade defence.
England full-back Delon Armitage selflessly passed to Fernandez Lobbe, even though he could have probably touched the ball down himself, and Wilkinson converted for 16-3.
Wilkinson added another penalty four minutes before the break as Toulon eased away against a Stade side devoid of inspiration although Plisson gave them the last score of the half with another penalty to make it 19-6 at half-time.
However, the hosts lost scrum-half Lucas Rubio, their third choice in that position promoted to start his first Top 14 game because of injuries to the other two, and had to be replaced by Australian fly-half/centre Paul Warwick.
Stade, though, gave Toulon a shock early in the second-half as Waisea Vuidravuwalu blocked Palisson's clearing kick and the Fijian wing touched down in the corner – Plisson missed the conversion to leave Toulon 19-11 ahead.
Toulon restored their supremacy as Palisson was at the end of a sweeping backs move in the 57th minute to score their second try which was brilliantly converted by Wilkinson from the left touchline for 26-11.
Stade's problems were exacerbated as they were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes when Julien Arias was sin-binned and former All Black backrow forward Chris Masoe made them pay with a try in the 67th minute while Wilkinson converted for 33-11.
Toulon added another try through Steffon Armitage which was converted by Wilkinson for 40-11 and Matt Giteau rounded off the rout with a penalty from long range on the final whistle.
For Stade FranÃ§ais:
Pens: Plisson 2
Yellow card: Arias
Tries: Fernandez Lobbe, Palisson, Masoe, S. Armitage
Con: Wilkinson 4
Pens: Wilkinson 3, Giteau
Stade FranÃ§ais: 15 Hugo Bonneval, 14 Waisea Vuidravuwalu, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Paul Williams, 11 Jeremy Sinzelle, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Lucas Rubio, 8 David Lyons, 7 Antoine Burban, 6 Pierre Rabadan, 5 Gerhard Mostert, 4 Alexandre Flanquart, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Laurent Sempere, 1 Aled De malmanche,
Replacements: 16 Remi Bonfils, 17 Romain Frou, 18 Anton Van zyl, 19 Olivier Missoup, 20 Paul Warwick, 21 Jerome Porical, 22 Julien Arias, 23 Stanley Wright.
For Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 David Smith, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Matthew Giteau, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Sebastien Tillous borde, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Nicholas Kennedy, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Jean charles Orioli, 1 Andrew Sheridan,
Replacements: 16 Sebastien Bruno, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 ocelino Suta, 19 Joe Van Niekerk, 20 Virgile Bruni, 21 Maxime Mermoz, 22 Nicolas Durand, 23 Levan Chilachava.