Semi-Final Match Report: Toronto Wolfpack v Toulouse Olympique
Toronto Wolfpack have booked their place in a second consecutive Betfred Championship Playoff Final with a 40-24 victory over Toulouse Olympique at Lamport Stadium. The thrilling triumph rewards the Wolfpack with a week off before the all-or-nothing Playoff Final on home soil with promotion to the Super League on the line. In turn, Toulouse will now do battle with Featherstone Rovers for the right to return to Toronto for the final game of the season.
The opening exchanges saw both sides completing solid sets before taking to the skies from the boot, with neither team able to break the lines and gain meaningful territory. A moment of magic was needed to open the scoring and Wolfpack winger Ricky Leutele was able to provide two of them just past the ten minute mark.
Showcasing his silky sidestep, Leutele created a gap in the Toulouse line and sprinted into open space before flicking the ball to Joe Mellor who crossed the try-line to the roar of the home crowd. Leutele would score his own just a few moments later as the Wolfpack spread the ball to the left wing, stretching the Toulouse defenders further than they could go.
An error from the resultant kick-off gifted the visitors prime field position and fullback Mark Kheirallah made the home side pay full price for their mistake, forcing his way over the line before converting his own work to reduce the margin to just four points.
Spurred on by the frustration of conceding, the Wolfpack launched a frenzied five minute charge that would see their vibrant red jerseys cross the try-line three times, placing one foot in the prestigious Playoff Final before the half-time siren had even sounded. Ricky Leutele was instrumental in all three four-pointers, continuing his remarkable Semi-Final performance with another try of his own and a hand in the ensuing two. When the referee’s whistle brought an end to the opening forty minutes, the Wolfpack had suddenly jumped out to a commanding 20-point lead and were in full control of the contest.
The Wolfpack registered the opening try of the second half through Liam Kay but it was Toulouse that created the most opportunities and played the best Rugby off the back of the break. William Barthau was the first to find a way to reflect his side’s dominance on the scoreboard, pushing his way over the try-line from dummy-half to bring Toulouse back into the contest.
From there however it was all Toronto as they pushed back into attack and sealed their place in the Playoff Final with 20 minutes remaining when Chase Stanley crossed in the corner as a result of a wonderful pass from Jon Wilkin. Leutele would then ink an exclamation mark on the Semi-Final by registering his third try of the day, the first hat-trick of his professional career. A delighted fist pump as he crossed the line showed how much the best-on-ground performance meant to the Samoan international.
The dying minutes saw incredible back-to-back efforts from Toulouse veteran Mark Kheirallah, scoring two tries in a minute to bring up a hat-trick of his own. The fullback ended the game with an impressive 20 points, his late tries reducing the final margin to 16 points.
The Wolfpack now begin preparations to host the Betfred Championship Playoff Final at Lamport Stadium on Saturday October 5, awaiting the victor of a huge Preliminary Final between Toulouse and Featherstone. The second Million Pound Game in consecutive seasons to be held in Toronto, the Playoff Final will grant the triumphant team a place in the top-flight Super League for the 2020 Season, a huge prize that has been in the Wolfpack’s sights since their inception in 2017.
11’ Try Wolfpack: Mellor. Conversion: O’Brien 6-0
16’ Try Wolfpack: Leutele 10-0
19’ Try Toulouse: Kheirallah. Conversion: Kheirallah 10-6
29’ Try Wolfpack: Leutele.14-0
31’ Try Wolfpack: McCrone. Conversion: O’Brien 20-6
34’ Try Wolfpack: Mellor. Conversion: O’Brien 26-6
Half Time: 26 – 6
47’ Try Wolfpack: Kay 30-6
54’ Try Toulouse: Barthau. Conversion: Kheirallah 30-12
60’ Try Wolfpack: Stanley. Conversion: O’Brien 36-12
64’ Try Wolfpack: Leutele 40-12
75’ Try Toulouse: Kheirallah. Conversion: Kheirallah 40-18
77’ Try Toulouse: Kheirallah. Conversion: Kheirallah 40-24
Full Time: 40-24