Toulon smash Saracens

Toulon defended their European Cup title with an emphatic 23-6 win over Saracens at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.

It took a moment of magic from Jonny Wilkinson and a massive dollop of attritional power from their star-studded line-up, epitomised by the tackling of former Shark Craig Burden and the breakdown play of Steffon Armitage.

And Bok possible Juan Smith capped his comeback from two agonising years of injury by scoring a superb try which took the game out of the Londoners' reach.

The first half was not pretty. Saracens made sure they played far away from their own line and Toulon defended fiercely, effecting some good turnovers, but they were not going to take risks, with scrumhalf Sebastien Tillous-Borde taking the responsibility to clear his lines. But there was a special moment – when Toulon were a man down due to Juan-Martin Fernandez Lobbe taking Alistair Hargreaves out in the air – engineered by Wilkinson. He darted left to pull the defence with him, then switched a pass to Matt Giteau who kicked into open space. Drew Mitchell won the ball and Giteau was on hand to support and score. Wilkinson converted from the touchline, and eight minutes later added a trademark right-foot drop goal to stretch the lead to 10-3 at half-time.

Owen Farrell pulled back three points five minutes into the second half, but that was the end of their ambitions. Wilkinson slotted another and then Smith scored after a series of interchanges with Fernandez Lobbe. Wilkinson converted again from the touchline as a fitting farewell on the European stage. It was game over, as Toulon grew stronger with every collision.

Toulon – Tries: Matt Giteau, Juan Smith. Conversions: Jonny Wilkinson (2). Penalties: Wilkinson (2). Drop goal: Wilkinson.
Saracens – Penalties: Owen Farrell (2).

Toulon – 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Drew Mitchell, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Steffon Armitage, 7 Juan-Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 6 Juan Smith, 5 Danie Rossouw, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Xavier Chiocci.
Subs: 16 Jean Charles Orioli, 17 Alexandre Menini, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Ali Williams, 20 Virgile Bruni, 21 Maxime Mermoz , 22 Michael Claassens, 23 Jocelino Suta.

Saracens – 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Subs: 16 Jamie George, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 James Johnston, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Chris Wyles.

Photo: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images