Friday, December 17, 2010
Tomorrow Toulon host London Irish in a crucial pool 3 game that will effectively decide if Irish will continue in the Heineken Cup or not. Last weekend Toulon got the better of them, winning 19-13 at the Madejski Stadium.
Jonny Wilkinson was destroyer in chief, while Joe Van Niekerk put in a performance that will have quite possibly put the forgotten man of Springbok rugby back on the map. The same can be said for Wilkinson and England, as he showed that he is anything but over the hill, as some have suggested he is at this stage in his career.
"Jonny gets better with age, like a fine wine," said London Irish coach Toby Booth. "He didn't look in decline to me. I saw him stop George Stowers on the short side 10 metres out... I think he's actually getting a bit better. He's like a fine wine, he added, before reflecting on Van Niekerks performance.
"He was the difference between the teams, to be fair. It's fairly evident that their game plan revolves around him, and while we knew what was coming, he caused us massive problems. In a hard-fought, competitive contest, he was the true quality act. Sometimes, you have to put up your hand and admit these things," said Booth.
Van Niekerk himself was all about praise for Wilkinson. "You can't say any more about Wilko, the guy's a genius. What more do you want from a 10 than keeping the scoreboard rolling? It's a privilege and an honour to play with a guy like that. Jonny is still world class."
Crashing to their sixth defeat in a row, the Exiles were in fact lucky to not go down by a larger margin as Toulon missed a few chances that should probably have been put away.
This weekend London Irish will be going for the win as they visit Toulon at the Stade Felix Mayol for a game that is vital for the visitors to win, something Booth is well aware of.
"It's a cup final. Realistically we're going to find it difficult if we don't get a result so we know what we have to do. From a Heineken Cup point-of-view, it's a 'do or die' situation."