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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Toulon through to Challenge Cup final after nail-biting win over Stade Francais

Jonny Wilkinson kicked a last minute drop goal to secure an Amlin Challenge Cup final spot for Toulon as they beat Stade Francais 32-29 in an enjoyable semi final on Friday night. They will face Biarritz in the final after they beat Brive 19-0 in the other semi.

Toulon got off to an incredible start as Steffon Armitage scored down the left wing, but Stade Francais came back into the match through their young number ten Jules Plisson.

The Parisian side then led the game for most of the half, and scored a try in the second period through former Wallaby Morgan Turinui, who had George Smith as his centre partner on the night.

Wilkinson steered Toulon home though, picking up a personal tally of 27 points and kicking the decisive drop goal with time almost up and the scores tied at 29-29. The former England hero missed a few kicks on the night, attributing that to the conditions.

"It was very tricky out there with the wind. It was disappointing as well because had I put a couple of the other kicks over then maybe we might found ourselves with a lead," he said.

"As it was they just kept getting back into the game, playing brilliantly and forced us to go right to the end. It could have gone either way. I missed a couple off the tee and I thought with the drop goal at the end that if I miss this I might not go back into the changing room afterwards.

"I thought the guys deserved better than this after working so hard to get the penalties - I should have put a few more over. All you can do is keep fighting towards the end and keep trying to do the right thing. I was trying to think clearly about the process, of where I was on the field.

"I was thinking about what I was trying to go and getting the right contact and visualising in my mind what needed to be done to try to make it more said and done deal. You try to line the physical thing with what you put in your head before hand and thankfully that went well."

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