Top 14 Orange
Business as usual for Wilkinson
December 14, 2011
Jonny Wilkinson returns to domestic action having announced his international retirement
The 32-year-old playmaker, who has been showered with praise since deciding to step down from the international stage earlier this week, missed five kicks at goal but notched four crucial penalties in his side's 34-12 success against Agen at the Stade Mayol. The Rugby World Cup winner landed three kicks before half time and another after the break before departing midway through the second half to a standing ovation.
Tries from centre Gaby Lovobalavu, No.8 Jone Tawake, flanker Leonardo Senatore and replacement Konstantin Mikautadze powered the hosts to their seventh win of the campaign that extends their unbeaten league run to six games. The result also lifted Bernard Laporte's side above their title rivals to third in the table and closed the gap on leaders Toulouse and fellow high flyers Clermont Auvergne.
Reflecting on Wilkinson's decision to draw a line under his 97-Test cap career, Laporte commented: "It was his decision, there was no pressure [from Toulon], but it's all the better for the club. He's 32, he took the wisest decision. If he had decided to continue he had more to lose than to gain. I wasn't surprised by his choice."
Laporte added: "It's not insignificant to end an international career like his. I'm sure he is emotional and must still be thinking about it."
Toulon return to European action this weekend with Premiership side Newcastle Falcons set to visit Stade Mayol on Saturday in a crunch Amlin Challenge Cup clash. Agen's disappointing Challenge Cup campaign resumes against Sale Sharks on Sunday.
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