Rugby League: Toulouse Olympique 54 - 6 Rochdale Hornets
Date published: 06 March 2018
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Rochdale Hornets were well beaten by a strong Toulouse Olympique side on Saturday evening in France.
The hosts had too much firepower in attack, and they capitalised on their opponents’ errors to run in 10 tries on their way to victory.
Hornets coach Alan Kilshaw made four changes to the side as Joe Taira wasn’t able to travel and Lewis Palfrey picked up a knock against Halifax. Luis Johnson and Toby King returned to Warrington Wolves, with Jack Johnson coming in on dual-registration.
Dec Gregory was handed his debut, and he was the best Hornets player on the pitch as he proved to be a livewire around the ruck.
Blake Turner and Billy Brickhill also featured for the first time and made an impact off the bench, putting in a good performance.
Toulouse made a great start as they scored in the second minute, with Jonathon Ford’s kick catching the defence napping as William Barthau pounced.
It took a further 15 minutes for the hosts to add to their lead, as Bastien Ader brushed off an attempted tackle from Earl Hurst to race over.
Hornets responded four minutes later with a well-worked try, coming from Hurst’s quick play-the-ball. Gregory jumped from dummy half to send Richard Lepori racing down the blind side before he returned possession to the hooker, who crossed for a debut try.
The first two penalties were back-to-back and went the way of Hornets, but instead of building pressure Harvey Livett threw a pass to the ground with Tony Maurel picking up possession and racing 60 metres to score.
Hornets had more joy down the right, as Lepori found space to break and offload to a supporting player, before Luke Adamson was tackled without the ball and won a penalty. Again, they wasted their opportunity as Danny Yates’ wild pass was plucked out of the air and Paul Marcon raced away as Toulouse went the full length of the field.
Rhys Curran stepped past a tackle with five minutes of the half left, and although he was brought down by Rob Massam, Barthau crossed at a canter on the next play.
The half ended with Constatine Mika scoring from a great set play, with Mark Kheirallah’s conversion making it 34-6 at the break.
Johnson didn’t come out for the second half, and he was joined on the bench by Luke Adamson early on as him and Maxime Puech were both sin binned for a punch-up in back play.
It took 15 minutes for Toulouse to extend their lead as three offloads ended in Mourad Kriouache going over, before they scored again immediately after through Bastien Canet off the back of a line break.
Massam slipped on the turn trying to retrieve a Ford kick to hand Marcon another try, before five minutes from time they wrapped up the scoring. Gregory came up with his only error of the game when he knocked a Toulouse offload into the path of Canet, to complete the victory.
Hornets coach Alan Kilshaw reflects on the defeat against Toulouse