Tue, Apr 09, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Toulon edge Leicester, Munster beat Quins


Jonny Wilkinson starred for Toulon as they kept their European Cup hopes alive after disposing of Leicester 21-15 on Sunday, while two-time winners Munster also progressed to the semi-finals after an 18-12 win at Harlequins.

Wilkinson outscored former England teammate Toby Flood in a battle of the boot between past and present international flyhalves as the French Top 14 leaders squeezed past two-time champions Leicester.

“I have lots of experience of playing against Leicester, who are a good, good team and capable of winning everywhere with their strength,” said Wilkinson, who slotted over all six of his penalties.

Three penalties from Leicester man Flood gave the Tigers an early 9-0 lead, before two successful kicks from Wilkinson hauled the hosts to within three at halftime.

Two subsequent penalties from Wilkinson, who last week said he would extend his stay in Provence for another season, gave Toulon their first lead at 12-9 before Flood put the visitors level.

Toulon then moved 18-12 ahead thanks to two more efforts from Wilkinson, but Flood gave Leicester hope with his fifth penalty of the tie 15 minutes from the end, only for Wilkinson to wrap up the game with a late drop-goal.

Toulon will next travel to Twickenham on April 28 to face English Premiership pacesetters Saracens, who recorded a 27-16 victory at home to Irish side Ulster on Saturday, for a place in the final.

Earlier, Munster reached the last four of the competition for the first time since 2010, avenging a Challenge Cup semi-final loss to the Londoners two years ago.

In a brutal encounter, Munster flyhalf Ronan O’Gara outscored Quins’ Nick Evans by six penalties to four to maintain Irish hopes of continuing their recent domination in this competition.

Irish sides have won five of the past seven editions of the European Cup and, following Ulster’s defeat, Munster remain the last representatives from the Emerald Isle.

The first period was a war of attrition, with neither side coming close to breaching their opponents’ tryline.

Harlequins went into the break 9-6 ahead with missed kicks at goal proving decisive. Former All Black fly-half Evans was first to misfire, but O’Gara hooked two kicks wide before finding his range.

The hosts had their noses just in front, but that lead was turned on its head within 6 minutes of the restart. Quins captain Chris Robshaw was penalized for offside and O’Gara made no mistake from his kick.

Flanker Peter O’Mahony then robbed line-out ball from George Robson deep in Harlequins’ 22 and the hosts infringed handing O’Gara a kick straight in front of the posts.

Munster had stepped up the intensity and Harlequins simply could not cope, giving away another penalty in front of the sticks that O’Gara, who now could not miss, slotted over for a 15-9 lead.

O’Gara kicked a fifth straight penalty without reply before Harlequins started to wrest some control back from their Irish visitors with a scything break through the midfield from winger Tom Williams.

That set up an Evans penalty, but Munster then pushed the hosts back into their own territory to see out a deserved victory.

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