Wilko eyes one last hurrah

Mon, 28 Apr 2014 09:58
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Jonny Wilkinson has booked the biggest possible event to play his final professional game in the UK with a second successive European Cup Final.

Jonny Wilkinson has booked the biggest possible event to play his final professional game in the UK with a second successive European Cup Final in Cardiff.

The Toulon skipper scored 21 of his side's points in their 24-16 semifinal victory over Munster in Marseille to ensure a showdown with English Premiership leaders Saracens at the Millennium Stadium.

The 19th European Cup final will come the day before the former England World Cup winner, who is due to retire at the end of the season, is due to celebrate his 35th birthday. If Toulon make it two wins in a row he will join Leicester Tigers' Martin Johnson and Leinster's Leo Cullen as the only men who have led teams to back-to-back titles.

But before thinking about successive triumphs, Wilkinson is fully aware of the challenge that faces his side when they tackle Saracens. The English club may have gone down 24-12 in their meeting at Twickenham last season, but their record 46-6 hammering of Clermont Auvergne in the opening semifinal of the weekend has made everyone in France sit up and take note.

"We've heard nothing but good stuff about Saracens. They are top of the Premiership and are consistent week in, week out," said Wilkinson.

"To beat Clermont Auvergne with a scoreline like that is incredible - it is normally the other way round with them. We have an enormous amount of respect for them."

Wilkinson was also full of admiration for the effort put in by Munster in the sunshine in Marseille. Having been nine points ahead at half-time, Toulon then saw their lead cut to two points when Ian Keatley converted Simon Zebo's try.

"It was a hell of a game and we were in danger everywhere on the field. A five point lead was never going to be enough and even eight was tight - Munster were relentless and kept going at us," added Wilkinson.

"They had so many tricks up their sleeves. We really had to be switched and I could really have done with that drop goal not being charged down. It was tight, but we were able to rely on each other."

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sun, 07 February 2016
London Irish v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Madejski Stadium
Exeter Chiefs v Saracens 13h00 Sandy Park
Ireland v Wales 15h00 Dublin
Mon, 08 February 2016
UP-Tuks v NWU-Pukke 14h45 Pretoria
UJ v NMMU-Madibaz 16h30 Johannesburg
Wits v TUT 16h30 Johannesburg
UWC v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Cape Town
Maties v CUT-Ixias 16h30 Stellenbosch
UCT-Ikeys v Shimlas 17h00 Cape Town
Fri, 12 February 2016
Treviso v Cardiff Blues 22h00 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Leinster v Zebre 22h00 RDS Arena
Sat, 13 February 2016
France v Ireland 14h25 Paris
Sale Sharks v Exeter Chiefs 14h30 AJ Bell Stadium
Worcester Warriors v Bath 15h00 Sixways
Saracens v Wasps 15h00 Allianz Park
Gloucester v Harlequins 15h00 Kingsholm
Northampton Saints v London Irish 15h00 Franklin's Gardens
Wales v Scotland 16h50 Cardiff
EUROPEAN CUP
MORE LOGS
Pool 1
Team P W D L Pts
Saracens 6 6 0 0 28
Ulster 6 4 0 2 18
Oyonnax 6 1 0 5 7
Toulouse 6 1 0 5 5
Pool 2
Team P W D L Pts
Exeter Chiefs 6 3 0 3 16
Bordeaux 6 3 0 3 16
Ospreys 6 3 0 3 16
Clermont Auvergne 6 3 0 3 15
Pool 3
Team P W D L Pts
Racing Metro 6 4 1 1 22
Northampton Saints 6 4 1 1 19
Glasgow Warriors 6 3 0 3 14
Scarlets 6 0 0 6 2
Pool 4
Team P W D L Pts
Leicester Tigers 6 5 0 1 23
Stade Francais 6 4 0 2 19
Munster 6 3 0 3 15
Treviso 6 0 0 6 0
Pool 5
Team P W D L Pts
Wasps 6 4 0 2 20
Toulon 6 5 0 1 20
Bath 6 2 0 4 10
Leinster 6 1 0 5 6