Perpignan's players celebrate the final whistle of their Heineken Cup defeat of Toulon
Jonny Wilkinson's first experience of the Heineken Cup knock-out stages ended in bitter defeat as Perpignan fought back to win 29-25 over Toulon in Barcelona.
The English fly-half, fresh from RBS 6 Nations glory, scored ten points including two long-range penalties, but it was not enough for the star-studded team from France’s south coast who had led 18-16 with less than 20 minutes to go.
Wilkinson had given Philippe Saint-André’s side an early lead with a 46m penalty before Guillaume Vilaceca was sent to the bin for an apparent headbutt on Pierre Mignoni.
Jerome Porical brought the Catalans level before Vilaceca’s second row partner Robins Tchale-Watchou also received his marching orders for a high tackle.
Wilkinson duly converted the resulting penalty and despite another Porical effort, Toulon led at the break when George Smith charged down Nicolas Laharrague to score the opening try.
Porical got Perpignan back to within two points straight after the break and Adrien Planté’s try gave them the lead for the first time after 50 minutes.
Joe Van Niekerk scored straight from the kickoff as France prop Nicolas Mas missed a straightforward tackle.
But two more Porical penalties and a Perry Freshwater try wrapped things up for Perpignan.
Fabien Cibray managed a late consolation for Toulon but Perpignan held on to qualify for a semi final away to Northampton or Ulster.