Toulon fly-half Jonny Wilkinson kicked 17 points in his French championship debut when his team, Toulon, drew 22-22 at home to Stade Francais of Paris.
AFP - England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, playing for the first time in 10 months, kicked 17 points on his Toulon debut on Friday as his new club held Stade Francais to a 22-22 draw in the French Top 14 curtain-raiser.
Injury-plagued Wilkinson confidently landed two monster kicks in the second half as his side eyed victory, leading 22-19 with three minutes left.
But he ended the evening sharing the limelight with Stade's South African scrum-half Noel Oelschig, who also kicked 17 points, including an equalising penalty three minutes from time, as well as troubled centre Mathieu Bastareaud, who was playing for the first time since being sent home in disgrace from France's tour of New Zealand in June.
"I felt fine physically and it was important for me to play the entire 80 minutes," said the 30-year-old Wilkinson.
"I scored 17 points but it's more important that we haven't won. The atmosphere was great. At one stage, I took a tap penalty and I had to ask myself what had happened in the stadium, such was the noise.
"I hope there will be plenty of more moments like that."
Wilkinson eased his way confidently into his new surroundings with a third-minute penalty before going wide with an attempted drop goal.
That miss was punished by Stade who grabbed the first try of the new season in the 10th minute.
Stade's powerful pack won a scrum against the head which allowed Oelschig to quickly release Argentine back-row forward Juan Manuel Leguizamon who stepped inside two tackles to score.
Oelschig added the extra points for a 7-3 lead which quickly became 10-3 when the South African was successful with a penalty awarded when Toulon were punished at a ruck.
But Toulon replied in the 20th minute with a try scored by back-row Thomas Sourice after scrum-half Pierre Mignoni had charged down a hurried clearance by fly-half Brian Liebenberg.
Wilkinson, who spent eight seasons with Newcastle before joining the talent-drain to France, had the last word in the first half with the conversion and then a penalty for a 13-10 advantage.
The penalty was awarded against English compatriot, lock James Haskell, making his Stade debut after switching from Wasps who was sin-binned for played the ball on the ground at a ruck.
Despite Oelschig bringing Stade level at 13-13 with an early second-half penalty, Wilkinson then landed two more successful kicks - the second a monster 54m effort - to give Toulon a 19-13 lead.
Bastareaud, who was sent home from France's tour of New Zealand after claiming he had been the victim of a violent assault, came on in the 56th minute.
The 20-year-old immediately made his imposing presence felt with a series of barnstorming runs sparking desperate Toulon defending.
A penalty followed by a drop goal from Oelschig's reliable boot pulled the Paris giants level at 19-19.
Wilkinson, with a giant drop goal, restored Toulon's lead at 22-19, but Oelschig refused to be overshadowed and another pinpoint drop made sure of the draw with three minutes left on the clock.
Date created : 2009-08-14