Thursday 18 January 2018

Sexton's Racing no match for Wilkinson-inspired Toulon

Jonny Wilkinson
Jonny Wilkinson

The impact of Jonathan Sexton at Racing Metro will take time to evaluate as the Paris rabble were taken to school 41-14 by Heineken Cup winners Toulon in the French Top-14 at Stade Felix Mayol last night.

Sexton played his part in the shadow of Jonny Wilkinson (pictured), who held all the aces of home rule, a dominant forward pack and, most importantly, a game plan and players he was familiar with for some time.

Too often Racing moved big, lumbering forwards into first receiver, much as Warren Gatland did for The Lions, to restrict the influence of the Ireland out-half.

Sexton had to deal with a squad that has had a greater than 50pc turnover of players – not to mention a vaunted new coaching team – from last season, of which Sexton, Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate are three.

In contrast, Jonny Wilkinson was the puppet-master for Toulon, pulling the strings in orchestrating attacks either side of him. The Sexton-Wilkinson sideshow didn't look like materialising, as the former began his work with unfamiliar faces, while Wilkinson was surrounded by long-time team-mates.

Sexton fell short with a drop goal and kicked out on the full and Wilkinson fumbled the ball forward, all in the first seven minutes.

Then, Wilkinson took the ball to the line to trigger a swift exploitation of the extra man out wide for wing David Smith to canter in for the first try, converted with ease by Wilkinson in the 10th minute.

Sexton immediately responded with three points and another kick from exactly the same position as fair reward for their pressure before Wilkinson makes it 10-6 on the half hour.

The Englishman was error-free in striking seven-from-seven. The Irishman went three-from-three before being replaced by Frenchman Jonathan Wisniewski in the 66th minute.

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