Former England star’s boot seals an impressive 20-point victory.
Jonny Wilkinson celebrated his recent marriage in style by kicking 22 points as European champions Toulon beat Bordeaux-Begles 37-17 to take top spot in France.
Clermont squandered their chance to depose Toulon later in the evening when they needed a last-minute drop goal from Australian fly-half Brock James to rescue a 22-22 draw at defending champions Castres whose points all came from South African scrum-half Rory Kockott.
All three Toulon tries came in the second-half through Australian centre Matt Giteau, Ali Williams, the former All Black lock forward, and English full back Delon Armitage.
Wilkinson, who married longtime girlfriend Shelley Jenkins in the French resort of Bandol on Monday, ended the game with his head bandaged after a nasty clash.
But after a disappointing kicking display in his team’s 13-12 loss to Toulouse last weekend, Wilkinson was coolness personified on Friday, just three weeks out from the 10th anniversary of having famously kicked England to the 2003 World Cup title in Australia.
“We have to pay tribute to Bordeaux who caused us many problems, especially at the scrum,” said Toulon forwards coach Jacques Delmas.
“They fed off our mistakes in the first half and we were rushing. But we refocussed at half-time and were able to influence the game.
“Our only regret was not being able to get an offensive bonus point.”
Wilkinson was responsible for all of his team’s points in the first period which ended 12-12 with Pierre Bernard matching his illustrious counterpart for accuracy with the boot.
South Africa winger Bryan Habana, making his home debut for Toulon, had been unlucky not to mark the occasion with a try in the ninth minute.
His clever chip ahead was thwarted by a body-check from Bordeaux full-back Darly Domvo who conceded the first penalty to be gobbled up by Wilkinson.
The momentum of the match shifted two minutes into the second half when Bordeaux centre Felix Le Bourhis was yellow-carded for a late tackle on Toulon scrum-half Sebastien Tillous-Borde.
In the 10 minutes he was off the field, Toulon stretched their advantage to 22-12 with Giteau grabbing the opening try by bursting through an inviting gap to score beneath the posts.
Williams extended the lead to 27-12 when Wilkinson unleashed a smart, crossfield punt over the Bordeaux defence where the veteran Kiwi collected to score in the corner.
Fiji winger Metuisela Talebula scored Bordeaux’s lone try of the night just three minutes later to cut the deficit to 27-17, but a Wilkinson drop goal — his second of the night — made it 30-12 before Armitage sprinted over for a last minute score for Toulon.
Clermont’s failure to beat Castres means they now have not won a league match at the defending champions for 37 years.
In a rematch of last season’s semi-final, which Castres won 25-9, Clermont, who are third in the standings, needed James’s last-minute drop to secure a share of the points.
The Australian finished with 17 points while Castres’ scrum-half Kockott claimed all of his team’s points with a 39th-minute converted try and five penalties.