Toronto extend lead at top of Championship with eight-try win over Toulouse

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Liam Kay scored a hat-trick to help put Toronto five points ahead of second-placed Toulouse in the Championship table.

Toronto are now top of the Championship table on 25 points, while Toulouse are in second with 20 points.

Paul Rowley made four changes to his Toronto side that were knocked out of the Challenge Cup last week. Matty Russell, Olsi Krasniqi, Richard Whiting and Blake Wallace came in for Adam Higson, Darcy Lussick, Jack Bussey and Blake Wallace.

Toulouse coach Sylvain Houles made four changes to his team that beat Featherstone Rovers last time out. Chris Centrone, James Worthington, Rhys Curran and Justin Sangare replaced Tony Maurel, Stan Robin, Bastien Canet and Constantine Mika. Italy star Centrone and Wigan loanee Worthington made their debuts for the club.

Toronto opened the scoring when Josh McCrone stole the ball in a one-on-one tackle from Sebastien Planas and assisted Liam Kay who raced over. Ryan Brierley converted to put his side in a 6-0 lead.

Toronto were playing some exciting rugby in the opening stages. Their attack was looking really fluent and they made their second try look easy as the ball was shifted wide to Russell who scored in the corner on debut. Brierley’s boot took the score to 12-0.

The French side hit back with a try of their own midway through the first half. Ex-Carcassonne and London Skolars hooker Mourad Kriouache scooted from dummy half to score from close range. Mark Kheirallah added the extras and they were only 12-6 behind.

Errors and penalties were costing Olympique valuable field territory and Toronto eventually extended their lead through Andrew Dixon, who scored his fourth try of the campaign.

Toulouse stuck in the game and fought back again. Anthony Marion grabbed his fifth try of the season after charging onto a drop-off from Johnathon Ford to score. Kheirallah’s conversion went wide, but it was given by the officials.

The first half was a great advertisement for Championship rugby league and Toronto were 16-12 to the good at the break.

The Canadian club got a little bit of luck at the start of the second period. Ireland star Kay dived over in the corner and the try was awarded by the referee. However, on the replay, it was evident that Kay had knocked on over the line and was in touch. There are no video referees in the Championship, so it couldn’t have gone to the big screen. Brierley converted to put Toronto 22-12 ahead.

The Wolfpack were on fire and some clever dummy half play from Bob Beswick resulted in Brierley going under the sticks. He converted his own try and Toronto were 28-12 in front.

Kay completed his hat-trick in the 52ndminute, following a lovely passing move from the Wolfpack.

It didn’t take long for Olympique to reply though. They were still showing great signs of spirit and they got their rewards as Charles Bouzinac scooted from close range to barge over. Kheirallah converted, but they still trailed 32-18.

Former New Zealand international Chase Stanley extended Toronto’s lead on the hour mark following a cut-out and what some might say forward pass, from Brierley.

Brierley put in an outstanding performance and even added a drop-goal for the Wolfpack, with the ball hitting the crossbar and post before going over.

Ex-Leigh prop Sam Hopkins crashed over the line for the Wolfpack, following a great break from Whiting. Brierley’s conversion made the score 43-18 to Toronto after 65 minutes.

In the 74thminute, Toronto hooker Bob Beswick was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle on Toulouse half-back Ford.

Toulouse soon capitalised on having the extra man on the field. Rhys Curran scored a consolation try for Toulouse. France star Kheirallah added the conversion.

Ford used great vision to burst through a gap in the Toronto defence to score the final try of the game. Kheirallah added the two points, but Toronto ran-out 43-30 winners at Magic Weekend.

The Wolfpack are now five points ahead of Olympique in the Championship table.

Toronto: O’Brien; Russell, Stanley, Worthington, Kay; McCrone, Brierley; Emmitt, Beswick, Sims, Dixon, Paterson, Hopkins. Subs: Sidlow, Krasniqi, Whiting, Wallace.

Toulouse: Kheirallah; Centrone, Marguerite, Ader, Worthington; Ford, Barthau; Boyer, Kriouache, Peuch, Planas, Curran, Bentley. Subs: Bouzinac, Sangare, Hepi, Marion.

Starman: Liam Kay will no doubt get a lot of credit for his hat-trick and rightly so, but Ryan Brierley orchestrated some brilliant attacking moves for the Wolfpack.