SA trio taste European success

2013-05-18 21:30
Bakkies Botha (AFP)

Dublin - South Africans Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw and Joe van Niekerk tasted European success with Toulon after they won the Heineken Cup by coming from behind to beat Clermont Auvergne in a tense final on Saturday.

Jonny Wilkinson showed trademark nerves of steel to kick Toulon to a 16-15 win after they had trailed for most of the game.

Ten years after kicking England to World Cup glory, the 33-year-old flyhalf's left foot did the trick once again, converting Delon Armitage's 65th minute try to put Toulon ahead for the first time in the match.

Clermont had looked favourites to be crowned European champions on their first appearance in the final, leading 15-6 after 50 minutes, but Armitage's try turned the tie on its head, and Bernard Laporte's men withstood a late barrage to hold out for a famous win.

Wilkinson, one of five English players in Toulon's team, finally added the elusive European title to his World Cup and Six Nations winners medals.

It was all worth it when the final whistle blew at the Aviva Stadium, but for so long it appeared as if the day would belong to Clermont.

They dominated a low scoring first half, where a penalty apiece from Morgan Parra and Wilkinson were the only scores registered.

Clermont were the more inventive of the two sides, with Sitiveni Sivivatu, Lee Byrne and Aurelien Rougerie enjoying plenty of possession, but it was a half that lacked any moments of class or precision.

As the clock ticked by, Clermont turned up the pressure but man-of-the-match Mathieu Basteraud, Andrew Sheridan and South Africa's Botha were immense in defence for Toulon.

Brock James thought he'd scored the first try of the game before half time, but the television official ruled the ball was out of play when he touched down.

After going 40 minutes without a try, the 50 148 crowd witnessed two in the space of seven second-half minutes, giving Clermont a lead that appeared unassailable.

Just 90 seconds after the restart, Fijian winger Napolioni Nalaga, the tournament's top try scorer, grabbed his eighth of the season.

Sivivatu stole possession from Wilkinson in midfield and Clermont moved the ball wide swiftly, with Rougerie feeding the flying Nalaga, who stormed down the wing past one defender and dived home in style.

Parra pushed the extras wide and Wilkinson's penalty moments later cut Clermont's lead to two points.

But the lead was extended just seconds later, with Brock James starting and rounding off a great move with Clermont's second try, with Rougerie once more earning the assist.

Parra made no mistake with the boot this time, and suddenly there were nine points between the sides.

Wilkinson kicked his third penalty of the game on the hour to pull Toulon within a converted try of Clermont, but with 15 minutes to go, Vern Cotter's side looked good to hold on.

Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe hadn't read the script, however.

The Argentine flanker stole possession in the Clermont half from an isolated Wesley Fofana, fed Armitage, and the English fullback romped home, clearing the stage for Wilkinson to seal a famous victory.


Clermont -
Tries: Nalaga (42), James (48); Conversion: Parra (48); Penalty: Parra (3)

Toulon - Try: D. Armitage (64); Conversion: Wilkinson; Penalties: Wilkinson (13, 44, 59)


Clermont Auvergne:

15 Lee Byrne, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Aurelien Rougerie (captain), 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 Brock James, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Gerhard Vosloo, 6 Julien Bonnaire, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Thomas Domingo.

Substitutes: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Clement Ric, 19 Julien Pierre, 20 Julien Bardy, 21 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 23 David Skrela, 23 Regan King.


15 Delon Armitage, 14 Rudi Wulf, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Jonny Wilkinson (captain), 9 Sébastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Juan Fernandez Lobbe, 6 Danie Rossouw, 5 Nick Kennedy, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Sebastien Bruno, 1 Andrew Sheridan.

Substitutes: 16 Jean-Charles Orioli, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Davit Kubriashvili, 19 Joe van Niekerk, 20 Steffon Armitage, 21 Maxime Mermoz, 22 Frederic Michalak, 23 Jocelino Suta.

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), George Clancy (Ireland)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)

Read more on:    toulon  |  heineken cup  |  jonny wilkinson  |  rugby

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