Planet Rugby

Wilko books Toulon's ticket to Paris

03rd June 2012 17:16

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Jonny Wilkinson of Toulon celebrates with Matt Gitteau Top14 semi 2012

Toulon hero: Jonny Wilkinson

A late Jonny Wilkinson penalty saw Toulon upset Clermont 15-12 in Sunday's Top 14 semi-final at a very wet Stadium de Toulouse.

Toulon will now face defending champions Toulouse - victors of Saturday's semi-final against Castres - in the final at the Stade de France next Saturday.

In a dramatic end to the game, Clermont scrum-half Morgan Parra missed a last-minute penalty, sending Toulon into their first final in 20 years.

Another try-less French semi-final saw all the points scored by the respective place-kickers. Despite having the lion's share of possession, Clermont fell short for the second time this season after losing out to Leinster in the Heineken Cup in April.

Clermont had started the game as the overwhelming favourites, but were their own worst enemies as a plethora of missed opportunities by les Jaunards handed Toulon sweet revenge for the controversial defeat to Vern Cotter's men at the same stage two years ago.

The game was not without it's own controversy however as a first-half penalty from Parra appeared to sail directly over the left upright. Parra insisted it had drifted inside but the match officials turned a deaf ear to his pleas without consulting the TMO.

In a ding-dong battle marked by ferocious hits, Parra and Wilkinson traded early penalties to leave the scores locked at 6-6 on the half-hour mark as both teams struggled with the slippery surface following morning showers in the south-west of France.

Toulon came closest to crossing the whitewash but scrum-half Sebastien Tillous Borde had the ball dislodged from his grip by Aurélien Rougerie in the act of diving over the try-line.

Wilkinson's third penalty gave Toulon a 9-6 lead at half-time after which the weather conditions deteriorated as heavy rain made expansive rugby very difficult.

Wilko slotted a fourth penalty on the hour mark to give Toulon a six-point lead but Parra replied with an excellent long-range penalty to keep Clermont within striking distance.

RCT's English sharpshooter would put his team back in front in the 76th minute however as he maintained his perfect record from the kicking tee.

Parra had a chance to force the match into extra time with the final kick of the game but his effort from 45m out fell agonisingly short, sparking wild celebrations from the Toulon players as the full-time hooter sounded.

The scorers:

For Clermont:
Pens: Parra 4

For Toulon:
Pens: Wilkinson 5

Clermont: 15 Jean-Marcel Buttin , 14 Nao Nakaitaci, 13 Aurélien Rougerie, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Brock James, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Julien Bonnaire, 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Julien Bardy, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Julien Pierre, 19 Elvis Vermeulen 20 Ludovic Radoslavjevic , 21 David Skrela, 22 Lee Byrne, 23 Daniel Kotze

Toulon: 15 Luke Rooney, 14 Alexis Palisson, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 David Smith, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Sebastien Tillous Borde, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Joe van Niekerk, 5 Simon Shaw, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Davit Kubriashvili, 2 Sébastien Bruno, 1 Eifion Lewis Roberts.
Replacements:16 Jean Charles Orioli, 17 Laurent Emmanuelli, 18 Christophe Samson, 19 Pierrick Gunther, 20 Geoffroy Messina, 21 Benjamin Lapeyre, 22 Fabien Cibray, 23 Levan Chilachava.

Referee: Pascal Gauzere

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