Toulon held in season opener

Sat, 17 Aug 2013 08:25
Large jonnywilkinsonsaracens2 Large wilko kicks630 Large castrogiovanni wilkinson ha Large jonny wilkinson toulon

European champions Toulon needed a late interception try to salvage a 22-22 draw at Montpellier on Friday as their big-spending Top 14 campaign got off to a faltering start.

European champions Toulon needed a late interception try to salvage a 22-22 draw at Montpellier on Friday as their big-spending Top 14 campaign got off to a faltering start.

Trailing 22-12 with 10 minutes left, Montpellier's French international fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc saw his pass fall into the grateful hands of Toulon centre Maxime Mermoz who sprinted half the distance of the field to score.

English veteran Jonny Wilkinson, who finished with 17 points, added the conversion for 22-22 and a share of the opening night spoils.

"We did some good things and some things that weren't so good, but we never gave up," said Toulon boss Bernard Laporte.

"It's a good result as there won't be many teams who come to Montpellier and win."

Laporte added that he was mystified by some of the referee's decisions which saw his forwards regularly penalised.

"I don't understand the nine points against our scrum. I felt the referee blew too quickly."

Montpellier coach Fabien Galthie said his team had done enough to have won the game.

"It's frustrating. Toulon knew what to do to assure the draw," he said.

Toulon had reacted to their surprise Top 14 final loss to Castres last season by flashing the cash on heavyweight talents such as Bryan Habana, Drew Mitchell, Ali Williams and Martin Castrogiovanni.

But none of those started on Friday with only Castrogiovanni on the bench.

Montpellier, who were European quarter-finalists last season and have made the domestic play-offs for the last three years, were worth their early lead which came after just four minutes.

Springbok centre Wynand Olivier marked his French Top 14 debut with a smart, quick pass which released winger Yoan Audrin to dive over for the try.

Scrumhalf Jonathan Pelissie added the extras for a 7-0 advantage.

That became 10-0 courtesy of another Pelissie penalty awarded on 22 minutes when Toulon were penalised for collapsing the scrum.

In between, Wilkinson's normal metronomic accuracy deserted him when his first competitive shot of the season drifted wide of the posts.

Toulon's problems worsened in the 24th minute when lock Virgile Bruni was sin-binned for a dangerous high tackle on flanker Alexandre Bias.

Wilkinson hit the target for his team's first points but Pelissie restored Montpellier's 10-point lead with his second penalty of the night.

Toulon then had a try controversially ruled out in the dying moments of the first half.

Wilkinson released Matt Giteau who sent Delon Armitage away into the corner.

But the try was ruled out for a forward pass by Wilkinson at the start of the move.

Wilkinson remained at the heart of Toulon's most promising forays, however, with an intelligent reverse pass arriving far too quickly for the comfort of Kiwi teammate David Smith who could only fumble the opportunity.

Wilkinson (2) and Pelissie (1) hit penalties early in the second period with replacement scrum-half Benoit Paillangue also finding the target for 19-9 to the home side.

Wilkinson hit a long distance penalty for 19-12 as the game became increasingly scrappy on a humid night.

The game's rhythm was not helped by regular replacements.

Not that Montpellier were too concerned with Paillangue knocking over another penalty for 22-12.

Wilkinson was on target again for 22-15 before his side pulled level through Mermoz's breakaway try with 10 minutes left.

Paillangue had the chance to win it for Montpellier in the 78th minute but his tricky penalty, from inside his own half, dropped well short of the target.

Saturday matches: Biarritz v Clermont, Racing Metro v Brive, Grenoble v Stade Francais, Bordeaux-Begles v Toulouse, Bayonne v Oyonnax, Perpignan v Castres.

AFP

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 16 December 2017
Treviso v Scarlets 13h00 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Montpellier v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Altrad Stadium
Racing Metro v Castres 15h15 Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Leinster v Exeter Chiefs 15h15 Aviva Stadium
Bath v Toulon 17h30 Recreation Ground
Sun, 17 December 2017
Wasps v La Rochelle 13h00 Ricoh Arena
Clermont Auvergne v Saracens 15h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Ospreys v Northampton Saints 15h15 Liberty Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Munster 17h30 Welford Road
Fri, 22 December 2017
Wasps v Gloucester 22h00 Ricoh Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Harlequins 22h00 Kingston Park
Northampton Saints v Exeter Chiefs 22h00 Franklin's Gardens
Leicester Tigers v Saracens 22h00 Welford Road
Worcester Warriors v Leicester Tigers 22h00 Sixways
Sale Sharks v Bath 22h00 AJ Bell Stadium
RESULT SCORE
Fri, 15 December 2017
Ulster v Harlequins 52 | 24
Mon, 11 December 2017
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne 14 | 46
Sun, 10 December 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Leinster 8 | 18
La Rochelle v Wasps 49 | 29
Harlequins v Ulster 5 | 17
Sat, 09 December 2017
Munster v Leicester Tigers 33 | 10
Castres v Racing Metro 16 | 13
Northampton Saints v Ospreys 32 | 43
Toulon v Bath 24 | 20
Scarlets v Treviso 33 | 28
Fri, 08 December 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier 22 | 29
Sun, 03 December 2017
Harlequins v Saracens 20 | 19
Sat, 02 December 2017
Cheetahs v Scarlets 28 | 21
Munster v Ospreys 36 | 10
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 32 | 25
TOP 14
MORE LOGS