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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Fri, 23 March 2018
Crusaders v Bulls 06h35 Christchurch
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Connacht v Edinburgh 19h35 Sportsground
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Sat, 24 March 2018
Sunwolves v Chiefs 04h15 Tokyo
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Kings v Treviso 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
London Irish v Gloucester 15h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Harlequins 15h00 London
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Stormers v Reds 15h15 Newlands
Cardiff Blues v Ulster 15h15 Cardiff Arms Park
Munster v Scarlets 17h30 Thomond Park
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 17h30 Kingston Park
Ospreys v Leinster 19h35 Liberty Stadium
Jaguares v Lions 19h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sun, 25 March 2018
Leicester Tigers v Wasps 15h00 Welford Road
Pool 1
Team P W D L Pts
La Rochelle 6 4 0 2 20
Wasps 6 3 0 3 17
Ulster 6 4 0 2 17
Harlequins 6 1 0 5 7
Pool 2
Team P W D L Pts
Clermont Auvergne 6 5 0 1 22
Saracens 6 3 1 2 18
Ospreys 6 2 1 3 15
Northampton Saints 6 1 0 5 6
Pool 3
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 6 6 0 0 27
Exeter Chiefs 6 3 0 3 15
Montpellier 6 2 0 4 13
Glasgow Warriors 6 1 0 5 7
Pool 4
Team P W D L Pts
Munster 6 4 1 1 21
Racing Metro 6 4 0 2 19
Castres 6 2 1 3 12
Leicester Tigers 6 1 0 5 7
Pool 5
Team P W D L Pts
Scarlets 6 4 0 2 21
Toulon 6 4 0 2 19
Bath 6 4 0 2 18
Treviso 6 0 0 5 4