Halifax 22 Toulouse 32: Fax suffer top-four setback

Toulouse's Tony Maurel scores a try. Picture: SWpix
Toulouse's Tony Maurel scores a try. Picture: SWpix
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Halifax saw their ambitions of finishing in the top four of the Championship receive a sizeable dent as Toulouse dominated a third-versus-fifth contest at Blackpool’s Summer Bash.

Richard Marshall’s side finished on the wrong side of a 32-22 scoreline, with the French side commanding the opening half to the tune of 20-6 to lay the foundations for a convincing win.

Halifax gave themselves a glimmer of hope in the second half and might have closed the gap to two points if substitute Adam Tangata had held onto the ball as he drove for the try line with half an hour remaining.

But a Rhys Curran touchdown seconds later re-established Toulouse’s margin for error at 26-12 and gave Halifax too much to do.

Halifax made the worst possible start, with Toulouse hooker Kane Bentley scoring within two minutes with a simple dive from dummy half and the full back Mark Kheirallah, who was outstanding throughout, adding the conversion.

If that was disappointing, the handling error from Ben Johnston that followed on the next set and the ease with which winger Tony Maurel flew over in the corner should have set the alarm bells ringing.

Kheirallah missed that conversion and Fax might have replied when Simon Grix burst the line but was ankle tapped as he attempted to throw the scoring pass inside to Jacob Fairbank.

They finally cracked their opponents on 19 minutes, Rob Worrincy’s long run downfield paving the way for Grix to produce a brilliant flick pass that sent Steve Tyrer over in the corner.

The centre converted, but no sooner had a poor ball from Johnston let the French off the hook at one end, then Maurel was touching down at the other end, a passage of play that illustrated the gulf between the teams in the opening half.

Again, Kheirallah missed the kick, but when back rower Rhys Curran scored just before half time and Kheirallah added a final play penalty, Toulouse had a thoroughly deserved 20-6 interval lead.

Fax started the second period with a try for Tyrer, after Johnston had rolled the ball in behind the defence, Tyrer converting to cut the gap to 20-12.

The potential turning point came in the 50th minute, Tangata rummaging for the line but losing the ball a couple of feet short.

On the very next set, Curran stormed away to score, making what might have been a 20-18 scoreline into a decisive-looking 26-12.

Anthony Marion touched down 13 minutes later to move the French out to 32-12, with Worrincy’s late score - just reward for a determined performance - and an even later one from James Woodburn-Hall boosting morale but doing nothing to influence the result.

Halifax: Sharp; Saltonstall, Tyrer, Woodburn-Hall, Worrincy; Murrell, Johnston; Cahalane, Moore, Boyle, Grix, Heaton, Fairbank. Subs: Tangata, Barber, Morris, Douglas

Toulouse: Kheirallah; Maurel, Planas, Ader, Minga; Marion, Robin; Boyer, K. Bentley, Canet, Mika, Curran, A. Bentley. Subs: Kriouache, Puech, Hepi, Leha

Referee: A. Sweet