Toulouse Olympique opened their Magic Weekend account with a win, defeating Wakefield Trinity 38-26 to raise the curtain on a great weekend of rugby league up in Newcastle.
The basement battle between the Super League’s bottom teams began with the French side kicking right to left. The Trinity got stuck in early, with strong defensive work on their opposition's line characterising their early hard work, with Toulouse only finding the 40 metre mark late in their sets.
After seven minutes, Wakefield got the initial breakthrough, with hooker Liam Hood breaking through the line on the fifth tackle and grounding it under the sticks. Max Jowitt converted and it was 6-0 to Wakefield.
Just two minutes later, Wakefield had the ball down past the Toulouse tryline once again, Matt Ashurst on the end of a deflected grubber kick from playmaker Jacob Miller to score his fourth try of the season. Jowitt converted and within ten minutes, Toulouse’s misery was doubled.
A win for Willie Poching’s Wakefield increases the gap between Trinity and relegation candidates Toulouse to six points, an absolute mountain to climb for the French side who’ve only managed to win three games so far this season.
Wakefield continued their offensive pressure, with a successful 40/20 and a set restart providing ample opportunity for another score, however loose forward Brad Walker knocked on under the watch of Toulouse full-back Olly Ashall-Bott.
Joe Bretherton found the scoreline for Toulouse around the 25 minute mark, holding the line over the whitewash and getting Toulouse back into the game, despite the following conversion going wide.
Wakefield sensibly chose to take a two point kick after Toulouse gave a penalty away on their own tryline for offside, however the French side might be disappointed with referee Robert Hicks as the pass from Liam Hood looked forward. Regardless, Jowitt made it three successful kicks from three attempts.
Six minutes before the half time hooter, Tongan prop forward David Fifita came off the bench to score Wakefield’s third try, capitalising on poor Toulouse defending to power his way over the line. Jowitt made it 20-4 to continue his 100% success rate.
The man of the moment, Fifita, was sin-binned on the stroke of half-time for holding in the tackle.
Sylvain Houles had his work cut out for him, needing to reinvigorate his side for a big second half, with Olympique starting the first ten minutes with a one-man advantage.
Toulouse did make the most of their advantage, Lambert Belmas getting his first try of the campaign thanks to a quick pass out of the ruck. The conversion was placed between the posts this time and Toulouse lowered their deficit to ten.
Scottish winger Matty Russell was next over the line, with Wakefield appearing to struggle without their 13th man. A simple overload on the wing allowed Russell to cross the line and set up a decent conversion opportunity for Chris Hankinson, which he duly took with ease.
Wakefield were imploding in front of our eyes, and Toulouse were in fine form to make the most of it. Nathan Peats powered his way over the line to make it three tries within six minutes for Toulouse. Chris Hankinson’s kick cruised over comfortably and the comeback was completed with over half an hour left on the clock.
Wakefield only touched the ball for the first time in the 50th minute, having not seen it in the opening ten minutes that saw them concede three tries. As if to make their afternoon even worse, as Fifita returned to the field, Rob Butler was then sin-binned for raising the legs above the head of an opponent.
Perhaps a surprising try to those in the ground, Toulouse had their fourth try of the half thanks to Latrell Schaumakel, jumping on a loose ball that had been pulled out of the hands of Guy Armitage by a defending Miller.
The game was pretty much over by the 60th minute mark, with Russell adding his second try of the game in the corner to make it 20-32, with Wakefield barely having a sniff of the ball in the second half.
The twenty minutes of play since resuming the second term saw Wakefield have the ball in just one set, with the volume of errors and penalties leading to constant Toulouse pressure that was turning into tries.
The final twenty minutes of play saw more Wakefield possession, but the task was too much for Poching’s men. Toulouse dug deep and defended ferociously to get the vital win to reduce the gap to two points between the two sides.
With just a minute left on the clock, Wakefield did manage to squeeze out an extra try but there wasn’t enough time left for any more action. A Brad Walker grubber picked up by Kelepi Tanginoa, before a quick conversion from Jowitt.
The six seconds left on the clock caused a rush from Wakefield that saw Guy Armitage intercept a rushed pass from Liam Hood on the Trinity tryline, and that was all she wrote.
Corey Norman won player of the match, covering the most distance and using his rugby league acumen to remain unpredictable in attack, leaving Wakefield second guessing and ending up with zero points.