PARIS - Former Wallaby Matt Giteau helped steer French rugby heavyweights Toulon to a 32-20 victory over English side Exeter in their European Cup pool match yesterday.
Giteau slotted 12 points for the defending champions with two penalties and three conversions at Stade Fekix Mayol while England legend Jonny Wilkinson clinched a crucial bonus point for Toulon when he scored their fourth try.
The 34-year-old former England five-eighth came on with just over 20 minutes remaining and the match evenly-balanced at 18-13 in Toulon's favour, but took the game away from his compatriots creating a try and then scoring one himself.
Toulon, who lead Cardiff Blues by two points ahead of the pair's decisive meeting in the south of France in early January, got off to a good start.
A swift passing movement down the blindside set up New Zealander David Smith for their first try in the 12th minute.
Exeter struck back after stealing a Toulon line-out with Don Armand touching down and Henry Slade converting for a 7-5 lead in the 19th minute.
Giteau, who was selected ahead of Wilkinson, created Smith's second try and then landed his first kick of the day for 12-7.
He and Slade swapped a pair of penalties each before Wilkinson was sent on by coach Bernard Laporte just before the hour mark.
That paid off almost immediately as he produced a great offload to another former Wallaby Drew Mitchell to set up their third try with 15 minutes remaining, replacement prop Xavier Chiocci eventually crashing over.
Toulon supporters showered the ground with paper in celebration when Wilkinson touched down under the posts to give the hosts a bonus point and Giteau added his third conversion.
Exeter got a consolation try two minutes from time as Ben White went over with Ceri Sweeney adding the extras.