Bakkies Botha was belligerent and at his best, but it was English veteran Jonny Wilkison’s brilliance that won the day for Toulon in the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Leicester.
Wilkinson kicked six from six in penalties and ended Leicester’s tournament with a 79th minute right footed drop goal.
Toulon won 21-15 but their second half advantage was such that Leicester did well to lose within seven points.
Wilkinson and former Wallabies inside centre Matt Giteau were the best backline players in the match while Botha and former All Black loose-forward Chris Masoe were the best of an impressive home team effort.
Leicester were defensively defiant and kept the hosts tryless through good defensive structure and also desperate scrambling on the cross cover. Twice they denied the home team with cross cover tackles.
Botha came close to scoring after a ferocious surge, but was penalised for a double movement, but that was about all that went against the former Bulls and Bok giant. Botha played as well as at any time in his Bulls and Bok career and is still good enough to make the Bok squad.
I would pick him for the Boks this season and for next year’s World Cup.
Masoe, after his pack had struggled to subdue the visitors in the first 30 minutes, was a menace to Leicester in the second half.
Toulon play Saracens in the semi-final after the London-based club beat Ulster on Saturday. Saracens fielded nine South African-born players in their match 23.
In-form French club Clermont crushed Montpellier 39-14 to advance to the semi-finals. They will play Munster, who were inspiring in beating Harlequins in London.