FOR ONCE, Hull KR fans were not cheering a Robin yesterday.
Instead, they were bemoaning one as the Championship leaders’ 10-match unbeaten run was unexpectedly ended mainly due to the influence of Toulouse scrum-half Stanislas Robin.
He inspired a stunning comeback for the French visitors, scoring two second-half tries and adding what would be the winning drop goal to make it 31-24.
Stunned Rovers – who had led 20-6 early in the second period – saw Jake Butler-Fleming cross after the final hooter, Jamie Ellis slotting his fifth goal, but it was too little too late.
This was the Robins’ first league defeat since also losing against the same opponents in France on April 17 and, beset with sloppy errors, was hardly the sort of performance they were seeking as they prepared for the forthcoming Qualifiers.
It meant the post-match presentation of the League Leaders’ Shield was a little subdued, too.
For Toulouse, though, this dramatic win keeps their top-four hopes alive going into next weekend’s final regular round.
Indeed, the only people who will be more miffed than Hull KR this morning are Halifax who, if Rovers had won, would have claimed fourth place and the last remaining Qualifiers spot.
Instead, ‘Fax host promotion-chasing Hull KR next Sunday knowing they may now have to beat the leaders to reach the Middle Eights; fifth-placed Toulouse, two points behind the West Yorkshire club but with a superior points difference, host Featherstone Rovers on Saturday.
Rovers coach Tim Sheens admitted: “I think we put the cue on the rack. We had a good lead but we walked them back into the game and then thought we could just go through the motions.
“You could just see it in the guys’ body language – there was nowhere near the intensity needed in our defence and some of our decisions were very ordinary.”
Asked if the result may serve as a reality check as they prepare for their promotion tilt, he added: “We’ll soon see. We’ve Halifax away who beat Featherstone today and have to win again to stay in. It’ll be an intense game and probably what we do need.
“How we react to this today will determine whether we go forward again or all of a sudden we get some doubt in us before we go into the Middle Eights which was something I was hoping to avoid.”
The visitors started well, Mark Kheirallah latching onto Anthony Marion’s smart grubber to open the scoring in the sixth minute.
However, for the rest of the first period, they were largely abysmal, a series of woeful handling errors illustrating why they were on a four-game losing run.
Rovers should have profited more. Danny Addy scored a fine individual try when he dummied through from 15m out before captain Shaun Lunt worked his way over from dummy-half.
They scored a third try from a scrum move that saw Butler-Fleming escape down the right and find Adam Quinlan, the Australian full-back celebrating his first game back after three months out injured.
However, Robbie Mulhern spilled the restart illustrating the sort of rudimentary mistake that would ruin his side’s afternoon.
Still, when Ellis slotted a penalty on the half-time hooter, they must have thought victory was within their sights. Instead, they invited their opponents back with a soft try as Butler-Fleming made an ill-advised pass as he tried to escape from his own line that saw Bastien Ader pounce.
Kheirallah converted and, with rival forwards Tyla Hepi and Lee Jewitt off the field sin-binned for punching, Toulouse struck again.
They finally found some rhythm to unleash Paul Marcon down the right for Robin to get his first, Kheirallah’s conversion leaving them just 20-18 down.
Chris Clarkson did respond, Ellis crucially missing the conversion attempt, but their opponents created a lovely score for Ader’s second, Kheirallah levelling.
They pressed ahead as Kane Bentley chipped and dithering Rovers failed to negate the threat, Butler-Fleming at fault again as Robin picked up the pieces in the 71st minute to take control.
Hull KR: Quinlan; Moss, Salter, Butler-Fleming, Shaw; Addy, Ellis; Scruton, Lunt, Jewitt, Blair, Clarkson, Kavanagh. Substitutes: Mulhern, Dockar-Clay, Cockayne, Johnson.
Toulouse Olympique: Kheirallah; Marcon, Planas, Ader, Minga; Marion, Robin; Boyer, K Bentley, Canet, Mika, Curran, A Bentley. Substitutes: Bouzinac, Puech, Hepi, Sangare.
Referee: J Smith (Wigan)