Summer Bash: Toulouse strengthen grip on Top Four spot

Toulouse Olympique picked up a valuable win for their top four aspirations at the Summer Bash thanks to a 32-22 success over Halifax.

Three minutes in Kane Bentley cleverly worked a dummy half and thought he had scored. Referee Andy Sweet referred the call to video referee Robert Hicks and the try was awarded. It gave Mark Kheirallah a simple kick at the side of the posts and it was 6-0 to Olympique.

High speed Toulouse hit Halifax for a second try after six minutes when Tony Maurel dived in at the corner thanks to the work of halfbacks Anthony Marion and Stan Robin, the razor sharp run and pass of Kheirallah and a Sebastien Planas pass. Kheirallah hit the posts with his conversion attempt and the French side led 10-0.

Eight minutes in, Halifax got some respite when James Saltonstall was tackled in the air and a further penalty gave Scott Murrell the chance to kick Fax into the Toulouse half. Fairbank, Johnston and Sharp combined to give a glimpse of attacking shape with Kane Bentley penalised for a shoulder charge on Fairbank.

Johnston slid a pressure kick behind the Toulouse defence but Robin got back to clean up, allowing Olympique to push into the Fax half again.

Thirteen minutes in Rob Worrincy lost the ball on contact during a kick return. Bentley was held short of the line and this time Halifax defence held firm.

Johnston and Simon Grix then cut the Toulouse defence open in the 15th minute but the return pass went to ground and it remained 10-0.

A clash of heads between Fairbank and Bastien Canet resulted in the Toulouse prop leaving the field for a concussion assessment. Murrell then put a towering kick in but classy Kheirallah was a rock underneath it.

In the seventeenth minute Marion skied a kick, Steve Tyrer took it and a quality offload saw Rob Worrincy fly sixty metres. That set the position for Grix to turn on the skill as a lovely pass brought a try for Tyrer. He converted from the touchline and Fax were back in the contest.

On their next possession Will Sharp was held down and a further penalty brought Halifax inside the Toulouse twenty but Maurel swept up an error.

Rhys Curran was held up by the Fax defence and Toulouse continued to scheme with the skillful Kheirallah kicking along the floor for Maurel to bag his second try. Again Kheirallah’s conversion attempt struck the posts and it remained 14-6 to Toulouse.

There was no doubting that Fax were under pressure but when Moore and Cahalane combined with Adam Tangata and a kick came to touch it put Toulouse back behind their own twenty metre line. Tangata offered further resistance ten minutes from half-time before a forward pass by Elliott Morris saw the move break down.

Olympique advanced before a mistake by substitute Mourad Kriouache gave Halifax the chance to flood forward. Johnston’s kick combined with the pace of Worrincy to trap Maurel in goal. Toulouse defended the set and Fax battled away before a promising move saw Worrincy step in touch with five minutes of the first half remaining.

Crucially a penalty followed for Olympique and they moved forward ominously. Robin was stopped five metres out, as was Kalausa Junior Leha but the outstretched arm of Rhys Curran brought a fourth try for Toulouse. Kheirallah missed with the boot and it remained 18-6 with barely two minutes left of the first half.

An error from the French side gave Fax a final go at the Olympique line. Morris drove to ten metre line before the move broke down on the right. Kheirallah broke. Somehow, Fax chased back and defended four tackles before a penalty saw Kheirallah goal to make it 20-6 at half-time.

Five minutes into the second half Ben Johnston’s clever kick found Tyrer for his second try, his conversion making it 20-12.

Then after 49 minutes Tangata went on his own with three men outside him. Toulouse showed Halifax how it should be done within seconds when Curran went thirty metres. Kheirallah goaled and it was 26-12.

Fax opened the game out again when Johnston and Worrincy carried the ball forty metres and Worrincy caused more problems late in the set before a switch wide saw James Woodburn-Hall stopped. Toulouse marched down the ground and an inviting Kheirallah kick bought his side a penalty but they couldn’t take advantage.

Eventually however, Olympique did get their sixth try when Marion reacted quickest to a deflected kick. Kheirallah goaled and the game was out of reach at 32-12 in the 63rd minute.

Woodburn-Hall saw a try slip agonisingly through his fingers fourteen minutes from time.

Halifax claimed consolation via a video referee decision on Worrincy’s 72nd minute try. It proved too far out for Tyrer to convert and it was 32-16.

Six minutes from the end Fax offered their supporters a glimmer of hope when Murrell kicked, Kuni Minga lost possession and Woodburn-Hall scored. Tyrer goaled and Fax were within ten points, but that was how it finished as Toulouse strengthened their grip on a top four place.

Teams:

Halifax: Will Sharp, James Saltonstall, Steve Tyrer, James Woodburn-Hall, Rob Worrincy; Scott Murrell, Ben Johnston; Mitch Cahalane, Brandon Moore, Ryan Boyle, Simon Grix, Ben Heaton, Jacob Fairbank. Subs: Elliott Morris, Brandon Douglas, Ed Barber, Adam Tangta.

Toulouse: Mark Kheirallah, Tony Maurel, Sebastien Planas, Bastien Ader, Kuni Minga; Anthony Marion, Stan Robin; Clement Boyer, Kane Bentley, Bastien Canet, Con Mika, Rhys Curran, Andrew Bentley. Subs: Mourad Kriouache, Maxime Puech, Tyla Hepi, Kalausa Jnr Leha.

Referee: A. Sweet.

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