Toulouse 14-20 Castleford: Mahe Fonua scores match winner for Tigers


Castleford Tigers sizzled in the sunshine of Toulouse with a hard-fought 20-14 victory over Super League’s battling bottom club.

Coach Lee Radford’s side dealt with heatwave conditions and an injury-hit squad to bring home the points.

Radford could only name an initial 20-man squad for this fixture but the patched-up Tigers fought tooth and nail in the blistering sunshine of the south of France.

The Tigers more than coped with the loss of injured scrum-half Gareth O’Brien with a brave and defiant performance against Super League’s strugglers.

A dynamic handling and kicking display by Danny Richardson in his first full game back at number seven following a long-term neck injury inspired the Tigers from start to finish.

Match report

The two sides slugged it out in heatwave conditions, going set for set, until Toulouse conceded a penalty on halfway and the Tigers turned up the temperature.

First, scrum-half Richardson was held up over the line, then Castleford forced a goal-line drop-out but they could not break the French resistance.

It took until the 25th minute of the game before the tense deadlock was broken when Toulouse earned two set restarts and a penalty to put pressure on the Castleford line where full-back Olly Ashall-Bott glided through some tiring defence. Chris Hankinson’s conversion put Toulouse 6-0 ahead.

But Castleford hit back when Ashall-Bott lost the ball in midfield and substitute Suaia Matagi forced his way over the line seven minutes from half-time, Richardson’s conversion levelling the scores.

HT: Toulouse 6-6 Castleford

With the heat and humidity rising, it was the side that kept their cool that would come out on top in the second half and Matty Russell was the coolest on the pitch four minutes after the interval when he latched onto a sweeping move left to cross in the corner, Hankinson landing the conversion from the touchline to push Toulouse in front at 12-6.

The game was punctuated for water breaks in stifling conditions but the next break came Castleford’s way when Ryan Hampshire raced 80 metres to set up field position for prop George Griffin to strike from short range between the posts, Richardson converting to level the scores once more.

A Richardson penalty two minutes later edged the Tigers in front but Toulouse hit back when they forced Mahe Fonua into touch and earned a penalty of their own, Hankinson stepping up to draw level once more.

Fonua made up for his mistake by forcing his way over the line with a powerful short-range burst in the 72nd minute, Richardson again on target to put Castleford 20-14 in front.

It was enough to see the Tigers home as the pressure ramped up on the competition’s battling bottom club in their fight against instant relegation.

FT: Toulouse 14-20 Castleford

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