Wilko comes up short
Sun, 14 Apr 2013 17:43
Jonny Wilkinson hit the post with a match-winning penalty attempt with the final kick of the game as Toulon were held to a 26-26 draw by Clermont.
In a thrilling clash between the top two in the league, former England No.10 Wilkinson could have snatched it at the death but his ambitious attempt from fully 10 yards inside his own half dropped against the lower part of the post as time ran out.
The best two sides in France shared two tries apiece with Fiji wing Noa Nakaitaci twice giving the visitors the lead, only for Maxime Mermoz and Alexis Palisson to cross for Toulon.
Wilkinson kicked 10 points with former Australia centre Matt Giteau weighing in with two penalties while Clermont's New Zealand flyhalf Mark Delany notched 13 points and full-back Anthony Floch also added a penalty.
Clermont got off to a flying start as Nakaitaci went over after just seven minutes following a quickly-taken line-out.
Toulon, who had opened the score with a Wilkinson penalty, hit back two minutes later as a long pass from Sebastien Tillous-Borde allowed Mermoz to ground in the corner.
A pair of Delany penalties put Clermont back in front before Nakaitaci went over again after good work from New Zealander Regan King.
Delany's conversion gave the visitors a 10-point lead but Wilkinson, who missed four kicks at goal over the course of the afternoon, reduced the arrears just before the break with his second penalty.
Seven points down at half-time, Toulon soon drew level as Palisson intercepted a pass from New Zealander Benson Stanley to run in under the posts unopposed.
Wilkinson's conversion was his last successful kick of the day before Giteau took over the duties and landed a pair of penalties either side of two from Delany and Floch.
Wilkinson's last gasp effort came agonisingly close but that miss ensured that the status quo was maintained as Toulon take a two-point lead over Clermont into the final two games of the season.
In the day's other match Perpignan beat Biarritz 33-28 to secure their grip on seventh place.
It was a crucial game in a fight for seventh which may bring with it European Cup rugby next season, depending on the French teams' results in the European competitions in this campaign.
Welsh flyhalf James Hook scored a try amongst a 23-point personal haul to inspire the Catalans to victory over their Basque rivals.
New Zealand's Lifeimi Mafi and French wing Adrien Plante also crossed for Perpignan while Biarritz scored tries through a Teddy Thomas brace and Rafael Lakafia.
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