Monday 25 September 2017

Wilkinson magic helps Toulon over line

TOULON 19

OSPREYS 14

Jonny Wilkinson fired Toulon to their first Heineken Cup victory as England manager Martin Johnson watched on.

Johnson and England attack coach Brian Smith were in attendance at the Stade Mayol for the glamour tie against Ospreys in Pool Three.

Wilkinson booted 14 points and set up Paul Sackey's late try which secured a 19-14 home win, but the out-half insists he was not specifically on a mission to impress his national coach on his visit to the south of France.

"I knew Martin and Brian were here but they are here to support," said Wilkinson. "It's not a case of trying to impress and show what I can do. It's more the advice I need but I haven't spoken to them yet."

Johnson and Smith may have had concerns in the stands when the injury-plagued No 10 crashed to the turf inside the opening six minutes following a tackle.

And with Toby Flood pulling out of Leicester's tie in Treviso, the England chief could ill-afford to have Wilkinson on the casualty list too.

But the Lion recovered from a knee knock to guide his team-mates home, despite Shane Williams's opportunist try just before the hour mark for the visitors, who claimed a losing bonus point.

Wilkinson added: "My knee is a bit sore now but thankfully it's my good knee. It's a shame and sad to hear that Toby has not played but hopefully he will be involved soon."

The Ospreys have reached the quarter-finals for the last three seasons but need to raise their game ahead of facing London Irish next Friday night.

"We won't know the proper measure of this result for a couple of months," said Ospreys director of coaching Scott Johnson.

"We couldn't hold field position all day long, didn't have many attacking line-outs and Toulon didn't play rugby. I was falling asleep and it was hard to play against. But that's the way they play.

"It was frustrating for us and there was some naivete on our part. But we have to work hard, be honest with ourselves and come back next week.

"It's a difficult pool but this result won't become clearer until a later date. We will take the one point away with us and move on."

Scorers -- Toulon: Sackey try, Wilkinson 4 pens, con; Ospreys: Williams try, Biggar 3 pens.

Toulon: R Lamont; P Sackey, M Kefu, G Messina, B Lapeyre (C Marienval 66); J Wilkinson, M Henjak (L Magnaval 61); S Taumoepeau (B Basteres 62), J Orioli (M Ivaldi 61), D Kubriashvili, D Schofield (J Suta 61), C Samson, O Missoup, G Smith, J Fernandez Lobbe (capt).

Ospreys: L Byrne; T Bowe, A Bishop, J Hook, S Williams (N Walker 68); D Biggar, M Phillips; P James, R Hibbard (H Bennett 58), A Jones, I Gough (R Jones 53), AW Jones (capt), J Collins, M Holah, J Thomas.

Referee: A Lewis (Irl).

Sunday Independent

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