Toulouse are staring at an immediate return to the Championship after Wakefield’s surprise win over Wigan at the weekend.
The French side are now four points adrift of their nearest rivals, with just four games to go.
It’s a task that looks even harder when you consider that three of those final four games are away from home for Toulouse.
Wakefield’s 30-12 win over Wigan on Sunday rubbed salt in the wounds of Toulouse, who went down against Warrington on Thursday.
It was a game they could have won at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, having led 18-12 shortly before half-time.
Two sin-bins – one for Joe Bretherton and one for Harrison Hansen – proved costly, as Toulouse’s discipline counted against them again.
They were on the rough side of a couple of calls, particularly Bretherton’s yellow card, but plenty of dropped ball and other errors cost them the victory.
The current state of play
A win over Warrington would have brought Toulouse within two points of the Wolves.
As it is, Warrington moved up to 16 points, Wakefield are now up to 14 and Toulouse are bottom on 10.
They also have a points difference that is 37 worse than Wakefield.
Trinity travel to out-of-form Hull, who have conceded 168 points in their last three home games, on Friday while Toulouse are at Wigan.
That’s followed by Toulouse’s final home game, the French derby against Catalans. On the same night, Wakefield host Hull KR.
Both Wakefield and Toulouse have to play league leaders St Helens away in the final two rounds, with Toulouse also at Hull and Wakefield facing Huddersfield.
Wakefield have hit form at the right time, with solid wins over Castleford and Wigan in between closely fought defeats to Catalans and St Helens.
Toulouse have now lost four in a row since the 20-6 win over Leeds in mid-July that had breathed life in to the relegation battle.
Home defeats to Salford and Hull, plus last weekend’s defeat at Hull KR preceded the loss at Warrington and the odds are now stacked against them for survival.
Promoted side heading for the drop
It would be the fourth successive season the promoted side has been relegated from Super League in their first season, albeit all in different circumstances.
In 2019, London Broncos managed a remarkable 10 wins yet still cruelly went down on points difference after a relegation battle involving five clubs that went to the wire.
The following season was hit by the pandemic, and saw promoted Toronto Wolfpack pull out of the competition post-lockdown.
They were replaced in 2021 by Leigh Centurions, following an application process.
The Centurions were always going to be up against it with vastly reduced central funding and only found out they would be joining Super League in the December.
They finished 10 points adrift at the bottom having won just two of their 22 games.
Toulouse have perhaps fared better than many in the league anticipated, especially after losing 10 of their first 11 games.
After that slow start, they have been competitive – suffering one point losses to Wigan and Huddersfield.
Had they been able to come out on top of narrow losses by six points or less against Hull KR (twice) and Castleford then their chances of survival may be brighter.
As it is, Sylvain Houles’ side go in to the final four games knowing that they’ll probably need to win at least three to have any hope of being in Super League next season.
- Friday August 19 – Away – Wigan
- Thursday August 25 – Home – Catalans
- Sunday August 28 – Away – Hull FC
- Sunday September 3 – Away – St Helens
- Friday August 19 – Away – Hull FC
- Thursday August 25 – Home – Hull KR
- Monday August 29 – Away – St Helens
- Sunday September 3 – Away – Huddersfield