It was an international affair as the Toronto Wolfpack welcomed Toulouse Olympique XII to the Lamport Stadium in a crucial round five clash in The Qualifiers.
Toronto were the first team to gain an advantage after Toulouse conceded a penalty for offside, but the French side made up for their error in defence as they dragged Gary Wheeler over the touchline.
The Wolfpack were so very nearly the first team to score too, as a Blake Wallace kick was just a little bit too strong and Mason Caton-Brown just failed to get his hand to it.
Toulouse responded by winning themselves a penalty as Sam Rapira was held on the ground for too long as Olympique set up 30 metres from the Wolfpack line. Toronto held on though as their solid defensive line held on strong.
The first ten minutes of the game flew by as the game was being played at a frantic pace.
Bastien Ader came out of a tackle adamant that he had been bitten in the tackle and the replay’s showed that Jack Bussey had in fact bitten the ear of the centre. The referee took Ader’s complaint an placed the incident on report as he didn’t see the incident himself.
Toulouse were on the front foot in attack, making in-roads in the Wolfpack line. Jack Bussey then conceded a penalty as Marion exposed the fact that the markers were not square at the play the ball. Mark Kheirallah took advantage of the penalty to kick Toulouse into an early 0-2 lead.
The lead didn’t last long though as the Toronto took advantage of a two man overlap and Mason Caton-Brown dived over in the corner. The referee awarded the try on the word of his in-goal officials. However, replays showed that the winger dropped the ball in the process. Gareth O’Brien missed his conversion attempt as the Wolfpack took a 4-2 lead after 21 minutes.
Jonathan Ford broke through the Toronto line as a certain try beckoned for the away side. Ford though passed outside to his winger but if had passed inside Stanislas Robin would have scored underneath the posts.
Toronto knew that they were not in control and were conceding multiple penalties, the latest being a high tackle. Chase Stanley made up for the error though and his tackle meant that the Wolfpack could escape down the right hand edge through Blake Wallace.
Robin managed to catch Wallace but he stripped the ball from the half-back after the tackle was complete to be penalised. He was disgusted with the decision and slammed the ball at the floor. The referee deemed this to be dissent and sent the French side half-back to the sin-bin.
The Wolfpack made them pay less than 60 seconds later as Nick Rawsthorne slid into the right hand corner and extend their lead as he took advantage of the overlap. O’Brien missed his conversion attempt as the lead stayed at six points.
Toulouse managed to get the ball back straight from kick-off though as the kick-off bounced out of play behind the in-goal and the French side attacked the Canadians line. The attack came to nothing though as the ball was knocked-on.
Another penalty was conceded by Toronto as Adam Sidlow hammered Tyla Hepi with a high shot. Mark Kheirallah was successful from the kicking-tee once more as the reduced the gap to four points.
Both sides were conceding penalties, and it was Toronto who were on top as they forced a goal-line drop out from Toulouse. However, the Toulouse defence managed to hold on as they out big shots on Blake Wallace and Andy Ackers.
Stanislas Robin returned from the sin-bin and made up for his absence as he set off Paul Marcon down the right hand edge, who kicked on and regathered to score for the French side.
Kheirallah missed his conversion attempt as the French side deservedly levelled the score going into the break.
Half-Time: Toronto Wolfpack 8-8 Toulouse Olympique XIII
The second half started just as the first half did, with a tight back and forth between the two sides. It was Toronto who scored the first try of the second half though as Chase Stanley caught Josh McCrone’s high kick as Chris Centrone couldn’t quite gather the ball.
O’Brien missed his conversion attempt again as Toulouse took a four point lead.
Toulouse then managed to regain the ball from the kick-off as the Wolfpack allowed the ball to bounce out of play once more.
Toronto then conceded a penalty and a knock-on to gift Toulouse back-to-back-to-back sets. This came to nothing though as the ball was knocked-on.
Toronto had the chance to extend their lead shortly after as Gary Wheeler intercepted a loose pass from Toulouse is picked off, however, the ball is knocked on by the Wolfpack to relieved the away side of the pressure.
The Wolfpack believed that they had scored their fourth try of the afternoon as Blake Wallace slung the ball to Cory Paterson but the pass was forward and play was brought back.
Toulouse then were then awarded a penalty after interference at the ruck from Blake Wallace but a loose carry from Olympique meant that the Wolfpack could escape.
Tyla Hepi and Bob Beswick squared up to each other after a high shot from Jack Bussey hit Hepi high and it went unseen by the referee. Bussey accused Hepi of biting him and once again the incident was placed on report. No television replay was shown this time.
15 minutes of the game remained as Toronto looked to score once more but the French side managed to keep Chase Stanley up and the centre threw his offload into touch.
Toulouse were escaping their own half but another high tackle from the Toronto side gave the away side more easy territory. They then won another six tackles as a Jonathan Ford kick was too good and Gareth O’Brien was caught in-goal.
Toronto then conceded another penalty and Bussey interfered at the ruck after being flattened by Hepi.
This set Toulouse the platform to level the scores as a flat pass from Barthau gave Stanislas Robin the space to run into and slide over the try line. William Barthau missed his attempt at goal to keep the scores level at 12-12 with eight minutes remaining.
Toulouse were on top now in the closing stages of the game and their open and expansive style of rugby was too much for the tiring Wolfpack defence.
A Toulouse scrum just 10 metres out from the Toronto line gave the away side the platform to search for the win but an extremely shocking pass from Barthau bounced into touch direct from dummy-half.
Toronto then powered themselves upfield and set themselves up perfectly for a drop-goal which Gareth O’Brien slotted directly between the uprights.
Two minutes remained on the clock as Toulouse broke into the Wolfpack half and despite Tyla Hepi bouncing onto a loose ball following a high bomb, the referee deemed there to be a knock-on and Toronto came away unscathed.
One last play for Toulouse was not enough for the French team as they came up short against a rugged Toronto side.
Full-Time: Toronto Wolfpack 13-12 Toulouse Olympique XIII
My Man of the Match: Stanislas Robin – The Toulouse half-back was undeservedly yellow carded in the first half and his try towards the end of the game was thoroughly deserved. He was an inspiration in attack for the French side and did not deserve to be on the losing side.
O’Brien, Rawsthorne, Stanley, Wheeler, Caton-Brown, McCrone, Wallace, Emmitt, Beswick, Sims, Dixon, Paterson, Bussey
Subs: Ackers, Sidlow, Buchanan, Lussick.
Tries: Caton-Brown, Rawsthorne, Stanley
Toulouse Olympique XIII:
Kheirallah, Marcon, Marguerite, Ader, Centrone, Ford, Robin, Bretherton, Marion, Puech, Planas, Curran, Rapira.
Subs: Bartau, Sangare, Hepi, Boyer.
Tries: Marcon, Robin
Goals: Kheirallah (2/3)
Featured Image: @TOwolfpack