Friday night and the first Semi-Final was played between Toulon and Stade Francais and what a tense game it was with Toulon shading it 32-29. For Toulon the shouts of Pilou Pilou will now reverberate around the Twickenham Stoop on Friday 18 May 2012. Live on SkySports1 from 19:30 in the UK.
Toulon had the best of starts or so we thought as almost straight from the kick-off they scored with Steffan Armitage handing of George Smith before crashing over in the corner. Into the wind and out wide Jonny Wilkinson was unable to add the extras.
The early score and the strong wind behind their backs seemed to galvanise the Paris outfit and they came back at Toulon. They were up to 11-19 at half time thanks to a try from Hugo Bonneval and the kicking of their young out half Jules Plisson. Fortunatly for Toulon Wilkinson also slotted two kicks to keep Toulon in touch and ready for the wind in their favour for the second half.
The second half and at first it was all Toulon and Jonny Wikinsons boot as he slotted a drop and three penalties to take them out to 23-19. This Stade outfit tore up the script and now had their best play as they scored a second try through Morgan Turinui with Plisson converting 23-26. Wilkinson then leveled it at 26-26, then 29-26 only for Plisson to drop a goal 29-29. Toulon were now getting back on top and Stade giving away kick-able penalties but Wilkinson missed two and a drop goal as the clock ran down and extra time looked to be looming.
The game having ebbed and flowed now came to the final climax as Toulon worked to get Jonny into a position for that drop goal. The clock ticked down and as we came into the high 70’s it happened the forwards drove near the Stade 22 and opened the door for Jonny who with a couple of Stade players charging at him drove the sweetest of kicks neatly between the sticks 32-29. The kick off came and Stade infringed giving Toulon a fina scrum from which they won a penalty allowing Jonny and easy kick to touch and the final whistle. Final score: Toulon 32-29 Stade Francais
If this contest is anything to go by and the rest of the weekend is as good we will have had a feat of rugby.
Kicks: J.Wilkinson 7 pen, 2 drops
Tries: H.Bonneval, M.Turinui
Kicks: J.Plisson 2 cons, 3 pen, 2 drops
Toulon: 15 Benjamin Lapeyre, 14 Alexis Palisson, 13 Geoffroy Messina, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 David Smith, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Sébastien Tillous-Borde, 1 Laurent Emmanuelli, 2 Jean-Charles Orioli, 3 Davit Kubriashvili, 4 Christophe Samson, 5 Dean Schofield, 6 Pierrick Gunther, 7 Steffon Armitage, 8 Joe van Niekerk (capt)
Replacements: 16 Sebastien Bruno, 17 Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 18 Carl Hayman, 19 Joe El Abd, 20 Gabi Lovobalavu, 21 Luke Rooney, 22 Fabien Cibray, 23 Jocelino Suta
Stade Francais: 15 Hugo Bonneval, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Morgan Turinui, 12 George Smith, 11 Julien Arias,
10 Jules Plisson, 9 Jerome Fillol (capt), 1 Stan Wright, 2 Aled De Malmanche, 3 David Attoub, 4 Tom Palmer, 5 Alexandre Flanquart, 6 Antoine Burban, 7 Pierre Rabadan, 8 David Lyons
Replacements: 16 Laurent Sempere, 17 Rabah Slimani, 18 Olivier Milloud, 19 Anton van Zyl, 20 Sergio Parisse, 21 Jonathan Danty, 22 Julien Dupuy, 23 Djibril Camara