Monday 25 September 2017

Toulon bring Sexton's season to a close

Toulon 16 Racing Metro 6

Racing Metro 92's Jonathan Sexton (C-down) holds the ball under pressure from RC Toulon's Mathieu Bastareaud during the French Top 14 rugby union playoff match between RC Toulon and Racing Metro 92, at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Lille, northern France, on May 16, 2014. AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS LO PRESTI (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP/Getty Images)
Racing Metro 92's Jonathan Sexton (C-down) holds the ball under pressure from RC Toulon's Mathieu Bastareaud during the French Top 14 rugby union playoff match between RC Toulon and Racing Metro 92, at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Lille, northern France, on May 16, 2014. AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS LO PRESTI (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP/Getty Images)
Racing Metro's Jonathan Sexton and Ronan O'Gara

John Fallon

Ronan O'Gara and Jonathan Sexton's first season in France came to an end last night in Lille when they were unable to guide Racing into their first Top 14 final of the professional era.

Hopes were high that the Paris club would follow up their excellent knock-out win in Toulouse last weekend by overcoming a Toulon side who have been runners-up for the past two seasons, but in the end Jonny Wilkinson guided the hosts home.

The result may mean that Sexton is available for Ireland's tour to Argentina early next month, although Joe Schmidt could decide to give the out-half a badly needed rest.

Racing Metro never led against Toulon, who are on course to become the first French side to win the Bouclier de Brennus and the Heineken Cup in the same season.

They play Saracens in the Heineken Cup final next weekend and then take on either Montpellier or Castres in the Top 14 final a week later.

A try from Matt Giteau gave Toulon a perfect start after 12 minutes, with Wilkinson adding the points after Racing Metro had initially failed to deal with his Garryowen.

But Sexton steadied Racing three minutes later when he landed a good penalty from 45 metres after Carl Hayman was penalised for coming in from the side.

Sexton was off target from the left and Wilkinson also failed to find the range with two penalties as Racing failed to punish the reigning Heineken Cup champions when Mathieu Bastereaud was binned for a tip tackle.

However, Sexton reduced the margin to the minimum nine minutes from the break when he landed another penalty from the left to leave it 7-6 at the interval after he hit a post with a drop goal effort on the stroke of half-time.

It continued to be tight in the third quarter but Racing were punished for a couple of indiscretions with Wilkinson adding penalties after 46 and 57 minutes to put them seven points clear and he wrapped up the issue nine minutes from time with a drop-goal off his right boot.

Irish Independent

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