Toulouse 14-28 St Helens: Saints stretch lead at top of Super League

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Konrad Hurrell in action for St Helens | Photo: Manuel Blondeau/SWpix

Champions St Helens extended their lead to four points at the top of the Super League table with a comfortable 28-14 win in Toulouse.

Kristian Woolf’s side avenged last month’s shock defeat against Toulouse in the south of France with a comfortable 28-14 win over Super League’s bottom club.

The Saints now sit four points above Catalans Dragons and Wigan in the league table.

The Olympians fought to the end but could not live with Saints’ power and pace. Woolf’s side exposed the gap between the competition’s top and bottom sides.

The game was under threat when scheduled referee Liam Moore and his fellow RFL officials got stuck in Munich after delays to their travel arrangements at Manchester Airport. An all-French group led by referee Geoffrey Poumes stepped in at the last minute to save the day.

Captain Tony Gigot was rested by Toulouse coach Sylvain Houles in favour of Norman and Lucas Albert in the halves. Welsh flier Regan Grace returned on the wing for St Helens.

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Match report

Saints twice lost the ball in their opening two sets then conceded a penalty for offside. Chris Hankinson goaled from 40 metres out to put Toulouse ahead in the sixth minute.

But St Helens hit back almost immediately when Jack Welsby cut through midfield to release Morgan Knowles for a 30-metre dash to the line, shrugging off full-back Olly Ashall-Bott. Makinson could not convert but St Helens were in front 4-2 after 10 minutes.

Winger Makinson was next over the line on the right. Saints stretched the Toulouse defence but he was unable convert his own try from the touchline.

The game was stopped in the 24th minute after a clash of heads between Toulouse prop-forwards Daniel Alvaro and Harrison Hansen. Both left the pitch bleeding heavily before St Helens forward Sione Mata’utia had to also leave for a head injury assessment.

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Konrad Hurrell’s 40-metre run seven minutes from half-time stretched the champions’ lead to 14-2 with Makinson’s simple conversion.

A dazzling midfield break by Ashall-Bott put Toulouse back in the driving seat. Saints conceded a couple of penalties before being forced to drop out from their own goal-line but the Olympians could not find a way through as the half-time hooter sounded.

HT: Toulouse Olympique 2-14 St Helens

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Harrison Hansen of Toulouse celebrates his try | Photo: Manuel Blondeau/SWpix

Mata’utia returned from his HIA for the start of the second half, as did Hansen, but the Toulouse forward immediately needed attention to his leaking head wound. He was quickly patched up and strode over for an early try, Hankinson adding the conversion to reduce the margin to six points.

St Helens looked certain to score with a huge overlap in the 57th-minute but referee Poumes decided the last pass to Hurrell had gone forward and the same mistake was made moments later when Hurrell thought he had put Makinson over in the corner.

But there was no mistake when Jack Welsby strode through a tiring Toulouse defence for a try, converted by Makinson 18-minutes from full-time, pushing Saints’ lead to 20-8.

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As the thunder clouds gathered and rain began to pour in the humid conditions, Grace struck from 40-metres out to put the champions out of reach, Makinson again adding the conversion.

But lightning struck twice in the thundery conditions when centre Hankinson blasted over the line straight from the restart at the other end. He converted his own try to reduce the arrears to 26-14.

St Helens finally got their first penalty of the game, against an astonishing 12 for Toulouse. However, Makinson failed to convert it in torrential conditions.

He was on target with his next penalty shot two minutes from the hooter for a final score of 28-14.

FT: Toulouse Olympique 14-28 St Helens

Toulouse: Ashall-Bott; Bergal, Jussaume, Hankinson, Russell; Norman, Albert; Navarrete, Marion, Alvaro, Peyroux, Dixon, Puech. Subs: Cunningham, Sangare, Hansen, Paulo.

Tries: Hansen, Hankinson Goals: Hankinson 3

St Helens: Hopoate; Makinson, Hurrell, Mata’utia, Grace; Welsby, Lomax; Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Sironen, Batchelor, Knowles. Subs: Lussick, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Paasi, Bell.

Tries: Knowles, Makinson, Hurrell, Welsby, Grace Goals: Makinson 4

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