2019 Moment #3: Championship Semi-Final
Playoffs descended on Canada on September 22 when Toulouse Olympique, the only team to beat the Wolfpack in 2019, came to Toronto for a blockbuster Semi-Final with a place in the all-or-nothing Championship Final up for grabs.
With a chance at Super League promotion on the line, it was always going to be a ferocious contest and the huge crowd in attendance were not let down. The high-scoring clash electrified the atmosphere and had fans unable to keep their seats as each minute brought more tension and excitement into the stadium.
After an opening ten minutes in which both sides seem determined not to make a mistake rather than commit fully to attack, it was Ricky Leutele that tore the game apart. Known as a big game player, the Samoan international proved the point with a performance that will live long in the memories of all to witness it.
Unleashing his deadly sidestep, Leutele found space where there was none to confuse the Toulouse defenders before offloading to Joe Mellor who scored the opening try of the contest. Leutele then hit the scoreboard himself just moments later when he stretched Toulouse out to the left side further than they could defend.
That would be the opening try of a hat-trick for Leutele, with his next try also coming in the first half before he added a third during the second period of play. The clearly dominant player on the ground, Leutele’s performance was nothing short of magical as he not only scored points of his own but repeatedly brought others into the game.
While the second half was hard fought, it was a five minute burst in which the Wolfpack scored three tries in the shadows of half-time that went a long way to deciding the match. Leutele, McCrone and Mellor, with some help from O’Brien’s boot, advanced the score 16-points in those five minutes and from there it was always going to be an uphill battle for the visiting French side.
The win put the Wolfpack through to the Championship Final on October 5, a game they would go on to win, claiming the Championship title and promotion to the top-flight Super League in the process.