Leeds see off gutsy Toulouse in The Qualifiers

Leeds survived a scare to get their Qualifiers campaign off to a winning start with an eventually comfortable 48-22 win over Toulouse.

The Championship side had fought from 20-4 down to be within just four points at the interval, but once Leeds broke their resolve in the second half shortly before the hour mark, the Super League champions were able to pull away.

Brad Dwyer and Joel Moon grabbed a brace of tries each and Richie Myler contributed with some decisive interventions to ensure the Rhinos didn’t suffer the same fate as Widnes, who lost to a Championship side in London Broncos at home on Thursday night.

The French side will have been disappointed by the manner of which they conceded the first points of the game, winger Tony Maurel spilling the ball from his own 20 metre tap, which enabled Leeds to build field position from which Dwyer darted over from dummy half.

They hit back straight away though, the effortlessly brilliant Johnathan Ford with a dummy and delayed pass to put Bastien Canet over for 6-4.

But Leeds started to lift the tempo and Myler scampered away before putting Moon over for his first try tackles later, and Moon, playing at centre having spent much of the season at stand-off, was over again on 22 minutes, stepping inside off a Liam Sutcliffe pass.

Another Toulouse mistake, again by Maurel, gifted Leeds a score in the corner through NRL-round winger Ryan Hall, who would later go off with an injury.

At 20-4 down, it looked like the beginning of a rout, but Toulouse dragged their way back in to the contest by the break.

Ford’s attempted settling kick bounced up off Tom Briscoe and Maurel hacked it on for centre Bastien Ader to win the race and touch down.

And on the hooter they would pull back within four points, after a sustained spell on the Leeds line, Maxime Puech took a short ball to crash over from yards out.

There was a sense of anxiety in the air at Headingley and it took until the 56th minute to cut through it.

Myler came up with a big play, stripping the ball one-on-one with Chris Centrone after he had collected a kick, and though replays showed a possible knock-on by the Rhinos, the decision went in their favour.

They didn’t waste time asking questions and from the field position, Dwyer proved too lively from dummy half and he darted over for his second try.

Toulouse were visibly tiring, though Leeds weren’t faring much better. Another loose ball, this time from a Dom Crosby offload, again fell kindly for Leeds despite calls for a knock on, and this time Dwyer darted out of dummy half to pass for Myler to go over for a try.

That was that in terms of the winners of this one, and Leeds would add further tries through Adam Cuthbertson and Carl Ablett, before Centrone scored a solo effort in consolation.

Leeds rounded off the scoring through Ashton Golding late on to get their campaign off and running with a win, ahead of a trip to London Broncos next week.

Leeds: Sutcliffe, Briscoe, Keinhorst, Moon, Hall, Ablett, Myler, Crosby, Dwyer, Singleton, Jones-Buchanan, Ferres, Cuthbertson. Subs: Golding, Mullally, Peteru, Oledzki.

Toulouse: Kheirallah, Marcon, Centrone, Ader, Maurel, Ford, Barthau, Bretherton, Marion, Rapira, Canet, Mika, Boyer. Subs: Robin, Puech, Hepi, Pettybourne.

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