Two tries by Scotland international Matty Russell and individual efforts from Joe Bretherton, Lambert Belmas, Nathan Peats, Latrell Schaumkel and Guy Armitage helped Toulouse secure a vital win; Wakefield had led 20-4 at half time, but had David Fifita and Rob Butler sin-binned
By Marc Bazeley at St James’ Park
Last Updated: 09/07/22 5:00pm
Matty Russell’s two tries helped Toulouse Olympique complete an incredible second-half turnaround and boost their Betfred Super League survival hopes with a 38-26 win over Wakefield Trinity in the Magic Weekend opener.
Scores from Liam Hood, Matty Ashurst and David Fifita plus three conversions and a penalty from the boot of Max Jowitt put Wakefield into a commanding position at the break as they led 20-4 at St James’ Park, although they also had Fifita sin-binned on the stroke of half time.
Converted tries during that period from Lambert Belmas, Russell and Nathan Peats subsequently turned the game on its head and, when Rob Butler was given 10 minutes on the sidelines too, that saw Latrell Schaumkel finish and Scotland international Russell cross again.
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Kelepi Tanginoa grabbed a late converted try for Wakefield, but an intercepted try from Guy Armitage on the final play of the match put the result beyond doubt and pulls Toulouse to just two points behind 11th-placed Trinity with nine games of the regular season remaining.
Story of the game
This was arguably the biggest game of the entire weekend in Newcastle in terms of what was riding on it for both clubs and, while the outcome has not decided the relegation battle, there was a sense ahead of kick-off it would go a long way towards determining which would be in Super League in 2023.
It was Wakefield who were in the ascendancy from the start as they quickly began to dominate the territorial battle, although Toulouse were able to break out and force a goal-line drop-out thanks to a clever kick from Corey Norman.
The French side could not capitalise on that though and it was Trinity who took the lead with eight minutes gone as hooker Hood darted out of dummy-half and ran in from around 10 metres out to score under the posts and give Jowitt a simple conversion.
Wakefield were without half-back Mason Lino after he picked up an injury in the captain’s run, while new signing Josh Bowden was not among Willie Poching’s matchday 17.
Toulouse had just one change from the team which beat Hull Kingston Rovers last time out, with Latrell Schaumkel replacing Paul Marcon on the wing.
Five minutes later, Trinity were in again as Jacob Miller’s grubber was fumbled by a Toulouse defender and second row Ashurst chased down the bouncing ball to finish for the 50th try of his career.
Brad Walker then had a try ruled out by the video referee after knocking on over the line in a tackle, while Toulouse started to carve out opportunities – only for errors like passes being intercepted or kicking out on the full meaning those went begging.
Nevertheless, Joe Bretherton gave them a glimmer of hope when a second drop-out then a penalty for Trinity being offside in defence allowed Toulouse to set up camp in the red zone, followed by the back row running a smart line to take a pass from half-back Norman for an unconverted score.
At the other end, Jowitt kept up his perfect record with the boot by landing a close-range penalty and was on hand to convert four minutes before half time when interchange forward Fifita was sent powering through to score by Miller.
Wakefield Trinity: Tries – Liam Hood, Matty Ashurst, David Fifita, Kelepi Tanginoa; Goals – Max Jowitt (5).
Toulouse Olympique: Tries – Matty Russell (2), Joe Bretherton, Lambert Belmas, Nathan Peats, Latrell Schaumkel, Guy Armitage; Goals – Chris Hankinson (6).
The prop was sin-binned for a professional foul just before the half-time hooter sounded and Toulouse made the most of their man advantage with three tries in the space of eight minutes after the restart.
The first came when Belmas took a pass from dummy-half to burst over and that was followed three minutes later by Russell being sent over in the corner. Then Peats forced his way over from close range and Chris Hankinson converting all three gave Toulouse a two-point lead.
There was more to come, because no sooner had Fifita returned to the field than Wakefield again found themselves a man down after forward Butler was shown a yellow card for foul play.
Once again, Sylvain Houles’ men made the most of the opportunity and they were in again on 55 minutes after Schaumkel dived on a bouncing ball which the video referee deemed had been ripped from the grasp of Guy Armitage, followed by Hankinson adding the extras.
Four minutes later, the ball was worked wide for Russell to finish on the left for his second of the match, which this time went unconverted. There was still time for late drama as Tanginoa went over with six seconds to go, but any hopes of mounting an improbable fightback were snuffed out when centre Armitage intercepted and finished as the hooter sounded.
What they said
Wakefield Trinity head coach Willie Poching
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Wakefield head coach Willie Poching says that his team still have games to win this season after letting Toulouse recover to win against them.
“We were playing with 12 men for 20 minutes and it crucified us. We needed to handle that period better…but full credit to Toulouse – they’re a quality team.”
Toulouse Olympique head coach Sylvain Houles
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Toulouse head coach Sylvain Houles says his team executed the second half perfectly after an incredible comeback victory against Wakefield Trinity.
“I’m so proud of them. The second half was exactly what we spoke at half time about. They executed perfectly and that’s what we want to see.”
Toulouse begin a run of three straight home games when they host Leeds Rhinos next Saturday (6pm UK time). Wakefield, meanwhile, travel to Hull Kingston Rovers the following day (3pm).