Toulouse Olympique XIII 50-12 Rochdale Hornets
Saturday 19th August 2017, 20:00pm
Super 8s - Round: 3
Mark Kheirallah 2, Gavin Marguerite, Kuni Minga 2, Constantine Mika, Charlie Bouzinac, Stan Robin, Bastien Ader,
Mark Kheirallah 7,
Danny Yates, Gary Middlehurst,
Lewis Palfrey 2,
Toulouse Olympique XIII
TOULOUSE LIGHT UP BLAGNAC WITH LAST QUARTER BLITZ
Never more has the saying ‘a game of two halves’ been so relevant. Especially when they’re divided by a mammoth 60-minute break. A technical hitch at Stade Ernest Argeles meant the floodlights failed and the ground staff were left scratching around for a solution.
For the neutral the opening half was a treat with the hosts playing some scintillating rugby and making it 12-0 quicker than you can say “where’s the trip switch?”.
Mark Kheirallah pulled the strings from the off and he was in for the first try, collecting the ball out of the back door and stride through the Hornets line to touch down and convert his own try.
The same man showed how dangerous he was moments later as he chased down his own kick to stretch the lead to 12-0.
It took a while for Hornets to find their feet before they pulled Toulouse into the arm wrestle. The pack led from the front with Ant Walker and Matty Hadden putting in the yards with along with some tough carries from Gary Middlehurst. After finding their point, Danny Yates put a neat kick into the in goal which pin-balled around before he managed to dive on it. Palfrey added the goal to make it 12-6.
The commitment of the visitors couldn’t be faulted but Toulouse ramped up for a 10-minute spell. Kheirallah in the thick of it again dummying the kick and firing the ball out wide for Marguerite to dive in and moments later it was the ever dangerous Kuni Mingi who scooped up a loose ball to motor up field to barge over in the corner.
Hornets refused to lie down though, the forward pack again leading from the front with Gavin Bennion impressing off the bench. Ryan Maneely collected the ball at dummy half and stabbed the kick through for Middlehurst to ghost his was through and touch down under the sticks. Palfrey added the two to make it 22-12.
Hornets started to purr as the break approached and were at the point where the next try was vital. The visitors camped on the Toulouse line for a spell but the robust home defence wouldn’t give and it remained 22-12 at the break.
With the stadium now wrapped in darkness the match officials were scrambling around and calling home to work out what would happen next. It was said that if the lights were not on by 9.30pm the game would have to be called. At 9.30pm the deadline was pushed back to 9.45pm and lo and behold the lights were on by 9.43pm and the game resumed.
Hornets came out of the traps firing with Toulouse doing everything they could to hand the game to the visitors. Hornets eventually found their way over through Chris Riley who pounced on Lewis Palfrey’s grubber kick but the touch judge pulled it back for offside.
On the 68th minute Middlehurst was shown a yellow card for a trip on a Toulouse man as he looked to regain his feet. Under the nose of the referee who waved play on, it was the touch who judge raced on with the flag up from the far side of the pitch and it was pulled back and Middlehurst walked.
With Hornets now desperate for a way into the game, Jake Eccleston found the outside of his opposite man and dropped Jack Holmes off to cut back inside but the ball was knocked on. Minga scooped the ball up to break 60 metres but Lewis Galbraith sprinted back from the opposite centre to haul him down short of the line. Minga couldn’t resist another go at the try line and was penalised for double movement.
At this moment the pendulum swung with Palfrey failing to find touch from the penalty. The ball was shipped through hands for Toulouse to crash over for the game breaker.
A tsunami followed with three quickfire tries in the last ten minutes to put the game well beyond Hornets reach and inflate the score line to 50-12.
For those not at the game this would look like the usual drubbing that many teams have come a custom to at Stade Ernest Argeles this season but the game itself told another tale.
In large portions Hornets threatened the hosts with some smart attacking play but in truth were not smart enough meaning the hosts had them at arm’s length throughout the contest.