Toulouse go second with Summer Bash win over London Broncos

Toulouse moved up to second place in the Betfred Championship with a 40-28 win over London Broncos to open the second day of the Summer Bash.

Mark Kheirallah scored 20 points, including two tries, as the French side held off a fightback from Danny Ward’s men.

The Broncos had fought back from 18-6 down to tie the game at 18-all early in the second half, and had then threatened another comeback at 28-24 and 34-28 before Kheirallah made it safe late on.

Kheirallah was involved from the very first play, knocking on a swirling kick off from Jarrod Sammut in the Blackpool sun, and that led to a period of sustained pressure from the Broncos.

Their former scrum half William Barthau would eventually snuff out some pressure, snaring an intercept to run 60 metres and put Toulouse on the attack – not the last time the French side would turn defence in to attack at the drop of a hat.

It turned out to be a scratchy start to the game with neither side being able to find a rhythm in the opening exchanges.

Though it was London who would enjoy the better possession and territory, it was Toulouse that took the lead, and again it came from a counter attack from inside their own half.

This time it was Kheirallah who pounced on a loose ball after Matthew Gee had charged the ball close to the line from London, and he weaved his way 60 metres before finding Wigan loanee James Worthington on his right shoulder, he took the ball on before feeding fellow winger Tony Maurel over the game’s first try on 11 minutes.

Kheirallah and Worthington would link up again for Toulouse’s second try on 22 minutes, Worthington beating Alex Walker outwide to touch down and Toulouse led 12-0.

The pattern of the game hadn’t changed much, with London enjoying more of the play but not being able to find that cutting edge, and Toulouse quite happy to pose danger on the break.

It took a moment of individual brilliance to break them down, Sammut kicking through on the last tackle and as the ball bounced up, he beat Kheirallah to it to touch down and drag the Broncos back in to it at 12-6.

Any perceived momentum they may have got from that score was shortlived, as from the kick-off Kieran Dixon was dragged in to touch.

They were almost punished for that error as Barthau fizzed out a ball for Worthington on the far side, but the try was ruled out by the video referee for a foot in touch.

The third Toulouse try would eventually come five minutes shy of the half time hooter, the mercurial Johnathan Ford with a superb bullet pass that missed out three players and found Maurel to touch down on the left.

But London would reduce arrears to 18-12 right on the half time hooter as another Sammut kick bounced up for Elliot Kear to catch and then bat down for Jay Pitts to score.

As with the first half, it was a scrappy start as London were pinned in their in-goal through Walker off the kick-off but the Broncos saw off that early pressure.

They hit the attack themselves and a high kick by Sammut was fielded by Kheirallah, who was then pickpocketed by Ben Evans who wrestled the ball away in a one-on-one situation and charged over to level things up at 18-all.

Toulouse enjoyed a bit of pressure then, though it came to an end when Tyla Hepi knocked on at the play the ball, only for them to be gifted possession 20 metres out when Dixon was bundled in to touch once again.

From that, Ford played a lovely inside ball to Rhys Curran to go over in the corner.

Dixon’s difficult afternoon continued as he was sent to the sin bin for a clothes line tackle on Maurel, and almost immediately, Toulouse stretched their lead to 10 points as Charles Bouzinac dived over from dummy half.

But despite their man disadvantage, London rolled their sleeves up and dragged themselves back in the game when a high Sammut kick was missed by Worthington, and Rhys Williams was able to touch down in the corner.

At 28-24, and with Dixon back on the field, the Broncos looked more likely as the Toulouse pack toiled in the heat.

That was until the 73rd minute when Curran seared away down the left hand side and waited for the supporting Kheirallah to re-establish a 10 point lead.

It would be too much to ask for the Broncos to come back, despite Williams’ second try bringing them within touching distance, a mistake by the Broncos in letting Kheirallah’s pinpoint kick off bounce dead, meant Toulouse would end the game with the ball, and they added their seventh try through the France international full-back to seal the win.

Toulouse: Kheirallah, Worthington, Marguerite, Ader, Maurel, Ford, Barthau, Boyer, Kriouache, Canet, Mika, Curran, Bentley. Subs: Bouzinac, Bretherton, Hepi, Marion.

London B: Walker, Dixon, Fleming, Kear, Williams, Channing, Sammut, Spencer, Davis, Ioane, Harrison, Pitts, Battye. Subs: Gee, Cunningham, Evans, Adebiyi.