Toulon down Toulouse in Marseille
September 20, 2009
Toulon fly-half Jonny Wilkinson is congratulated by team-mate Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe after kicking his side to victory in Marseille
© Getty Images
Toulon got their Top 14 campaign back on track with an 18-13 victory over Toulouse at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille.
Three penalties and three drop goals from the boot of fly-half Jonny Wilkinson carried the hosts to their fourth victory of the season in front of a close to capacity 60,000 crowd. Toulouse fly-half Frederic Michalak scored the only try of the game on his way to a personal tally of 10 points but a late penalty from scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde was only enough to secure a losing bonus point.
Michalak opened the scoring with a drop goal on the quarter-hour but his effort was cancelled out by Wilkinson who struck his first penalty mid-way through the half. Toulon's hopes were dealt a blow when prop Davit Kubriashvili was yellow carded soon after for a high tackle on Michalak but the home side weathered the storm and entered the break on level terms despite having been second best for much of the opening period.
Wilkinson edged his side ahead with a drop goal straight after the re-start and another stretched his side's lead just five minutes later. Toulouse were then reduced to 14-men when flanker Yannick Nyanga was sent to the sin-bin but his side responded with the first try of the game from Michalak who pounced for an intercept score before adding the conversion.
Toulon rallied and the boot of Wilkinson carried them into the lead once more thanks to two more successful penalties followed by his third drop goal. Elissalde brought his side back to within five points with his penalty but they were unable to overhaul their hosts in the last ten minutes.
Late pressure from Toulouse almost conjured a match-winning score when Vincent Clerc charged down a clearance in injury time but Toulon centre Jamie Robinson won the race to the loose ball to ensure a repeat of last year's home win against the perennial title challengers.
The victory, following back-to-back narrow defeats to Montpellier and Montauban, lifted Toulon level with Toulouse in the table and saw them remain in touch with leaders Clermont Auvergne and defending champions Perpignan.
"It's a great feeling to win. The last two weeks have been difficult to take," Wilkinson told AFP. "It came down to the last minute. It was very tight between the two teams. In France, all the teams are very dangerous for the full 80 minutes. We need to work on our capacity to finish off a game."
Michalak was full of admiration for his Toulon rival and backed him for an international recall. "He is without doubt back to his best level," he said. "Each time he came into our half he scored points. It's important to have someone like that in your team."
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