Toulon and superb Jonny Wilkinson crush Saracens in Heineken Cup final

时间:2019-11-16 责任编辑:祝找 来源:2018正规博彩娱乐网 点击:126 次

Jonny Wilkinson’s final appearance on a rugby ground in Britain ended with the fly-half becoming the final captain to hoist the after another polished performance that should give his successor in the England team, Owen Farrell, considerable cause for reflection.

The game was an hour old when Wilkinson, who had dropped a trademark goal with his right foot at the end of the first-half to give his side a 10-3 interval lead despite being largely outplayed until then, was going through his routine as he prepared to convert Toulon’s second try. Farrell, standing behind the Saracens’ line, pointed to where his watch would normally be on his wrist and mouthed some advice but it was Wilkinson who had time on his side.

A few minutes later, after a high and late tackle on Bryan Habana had led to Wilkinson’s second penalty and 13th point of the match, Farrell was taken off. If the performances of the two fly-halves did not decide the result, Wilkinson showed that being compared with him is one thing, being comparable to him is another. He said that he was embarrassed at receiving praise that should go to his team-mates, but as the conductor, he sets the tone and after a few false notes at the start, were in chorus.

had eviscerated Clermont Auvergne in the semi-final at Twickenham, their wolf-pack defence stripping their prey to a skeleton, but here the hunters became the hunted after an opening 25 minutes of snarling. Jacques Burger made a number of thumping hits, one visibly hurting Bakkies Botha, and Billy Vunipola made some typically robust challenges. Richard Wigglesworth’s hanging kicks discomfited Toulon’s back three, but for once the constituent parts of the Premiership finalists did not add up to anywhere near enough.

Toulon may have creaked in the scrum until Xavier Chiocci was replaced six minutes into the second-half having conceded a third penalty for collapsing under the strain of grappling with Matt Stevens. Alain Rolland is a referee who has a penchant for giving transgressors in the front row 10 minutes off to think about their technique and it was at that point that the breakdown became the key battleground.

As Burger’s influence waned, so Steffon Armitage’s grew. Saracens had used Chiocci’s final indiscretion to peg back Toulon to 10-6, but a few minutes later Armitage, again playing at No8, tackled Billy Vunipola and, in virtually the same movement, got back to his feet and started stealing the ball. Kelly Brown, off his feet, tried to thwart him and Wilkinson was presented with a penalty from 40 metres, his first of the match.

Farrell had opened the scoring in the fourth minute after Chiocci failed to hold up his side of the scrum, but he and Marcelo Bosch were both wide from 45 metres in the next 20 minutes as Saracens, for all their position and territory, struggled to make an impact on an obdurate defence in which Juan Smith, who retired a year ago because of a chronic achilles’ tendon problem before making a comeback, was the central figure. Toulon may be a team of all the talents and expensively assembled, but they are moulded like Wilkinson, putting the team before themselves – even Mathieu Bastareaud, a centre with a reputation for being sulky and temperamental before he pitched up on the Mediterranean.

He should have played a greater part in Toulon’s first try on 29 minutes, dawdling after Matt Giteau’s chip into Saracens’ 22 as his centre partner scented the opportunity, but he created the second after Farrell’s break in enemy territory spawned a counterattack. Bastareaud found himself barrelling along the right-wing, desperately seeking contact Saracens thought and hoped, but at the moment of expected impact, the centre passed to Smith outside him.

It was not a graceful act from someone who has not forged his reputation on passing and Smith had to check his run slightly to gather the ball, but it opened the defence and, after an interchange of passes with his fellow flanker Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, Smith scored in the corner for Wilkinson’s boot to put Toulon 14 points ahead and, effectively, out of reach.

Lobbe had been a central figure in the first half. He was sent to the sin-bin after 21 minutes for taking out the second row Alistair Hargreaves in the air – an offence that earned Saracens a permanent one-man advantage in the quarter-final at Ulster when Jared Payne was sent off – but yellow seemed the appropriate colour with Stevens also having a hold of his colleague.

Saracens were at this stage three points ahead and on top, although Toulon came closest to scoring a try when Wigglesworth’s kick was charged down by Craig Burden only for the ball to roll into touch-in-goal as Sébastien Tillous-Borde went to apply downward pressure. It was a rare moment of pressure from Toulon who were victims of their own indiscipline: Burden’s challenges bordered on the reckless and Delon Armitage was fortunate that his late challenge on Alex Goode went unnoticed.

It was at the point they looked most vulnerable that Toulon roused themselves. It took them 25 minutes to earn a penalty and when they had a second a few minutes later, Wilkinson used the lineout in Saracens’ half to change direction and use Giteau as the point of attack. The centre kicked the ball into the ground so that Goode, as the last line of defence at full-back, hesitated about whether to try to claim it. As he pondered, Drew Mitchell made the ball his, catching it high above his head, and although he was tackled by Goode, he passed to Giteau who had read the play and was far enough ahead of Wigglesworth to make the line.

It was a blow from which Saracens never recovered. Wilkinson made it 10-3 just before the interval with a right-footed drop goal from 35 metres. Toulon are not a team to chase and while it was largely a brutal, ugly final between two heavyweights, it contained moments of class and was notable for the controlling brilliance of Wilkinson and his facility for making the right decision, dovetailing with Giteau. Even at the very end, he inspires.

Farrell’s final act before being replaced was to fell Habana with a high, late challenge after the wing had chipped the ball ahead, although the fall to the ground was unnecessarily theatrical.