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Toulon book ticket to Twickenham

07th April 2013 18:23

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Toulon ten Jonny Wilkinson shaking hands with Leicester ten Toby Flood

Match-winner: Jonny Wilkinson

Toulon will face Saracens in the Heineken Cup semi-finals after beating Leicester Tigers 21-15 in an enthralling clash at Stade Félix Mayol on Sunday.

Jonny Wilkinson kicked six penalties and a drop-goal to Toby Flood's five penalties in a hard-fought encounter on the French south coast.

There may not have been any tries but, unlike the dour quarter-final at the Stoop earlier in the day, there was no lack of excitement.

Tigers dominated at both set-pieces in the first-half but were unable to contain Toulon's ability to move the ball with pace and power as the hosts turned up the tempo in the second-half.

Leicester led 9-6 at half-time as the lopsided penalty count left Toulon struggling to get out of their own half.

But yellow cards on either side of the interval robbed Leicester of momentum and though they battled hard, few would argue that Toulon weren't deserved winners.

The first scrum penalty went against the home side's tighthead, Carl Hayman, at the second set-piece. Flood struck it sweetly from long range to give the Tigers an early lead.

Steffon Armitage looked bemused (and rightly so) when he was blown up shortly afterward for entering a ruck from the side to allow Flood to make the lead six points after fifteen minutes.

Leicester were awarded three penalties at the first four scrums and Flood again hit the target from nearly 50 metres out to further stretch the lead.

It wasn't much better for the hosts at line-out time either as the English visitors had stolen three on RCT's throw by the end of the first quarter.

However the tide turned around the half-hour mark when first Toulon were given their first scrum penalty and then Flood was shown a yellow card for an intentional knock down. Wilkinson put the hosts on the scoreboard to the relief of the boisterous home crowd before adding a second penalty when Dan Cole killed a flowing Toulon move with a hand on the deck.

Flood returned from the sin-bin just in time to miss a penalty and see Tom Croft hobble off with a back injury on the verge of half-time.

Wilkinson levelled the scores early in the second period after Ed Slater cynically took out Steffon Armitage off the ball.

'Wilko' maintained his perfect record from the kicking tee to put Toulon in front for the first time as the Tigers began to bleed penalties at the breakdown.

Tigers survived a series of close calls when Wilkinson missed a long-range drop before Adam Thompstone tackled Mathieu Bastareaud into touch in the act of going over the try-line.

Bakkies Botha also thought he had scored but referee George Clancy called former Bok lock back for making a second movement on his way to the line.

Flood squared the scores at 12-12 just before the hour mark when Toulon were off their feet trying to run out of their own 22.

But Leicester immediately fell behind again when Cole imitated his skipper by seeing yellow for the same offence and Wilkinson landed his fifth penalty.

The opposing fly-halves traded penalties to leave the game on a knife-edge at 18-15 going into the final 15 minutes.

Of course it had to be Wilkinson that landed the killer blow and his drop-goal in the dying minutes sealed the deal for Toulon.

The scorers:

For Toulon:
Pens: Wilkinson 6
Drop: Wilkinson

For Leicester :
Pens: Flood 5
Yellow cards: Flood, Cole

Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Rudi Wulf, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Jonny Wilkinson (c), 9 Sébastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 5 Nick Kennedy, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Sebastien Bruno, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Mickael Ivaldi, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Levan Chilachava, 19 Jocelino Suta, 20 Vincent Martin, 21 Maxime Mermoz, 22 Nicolas Durand, 23 Joe van Niekerk.

Leicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Toby Flood (c), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Logovi'i Mulipola, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 George Ford, 23 Matt Smith.

Venue: Stade Félix Mayol
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland); Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)

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