Toulouse repel Halifax Panthers' fightback to edge Championship clash
Toulouse Olympique XIII held off a strong fightback from Halifax Panthers to win 44-34 at the Shay Stadium.
Halifax started the game in positive fashion, forcing errors from their French counterparts early on, but were unable to find any point to show for their efforts.
Toulouse grew into the contest, and showed their attacking quality as Junior Vaivai went over to open the scoring. Moments later the score was 12-0, with second row Joe Bretherton touching down.
The tries kept on coming for the visitors, with Halifax unable to string together any consistent phases, giving away numerous penalties to gift their opponents attacking field position.
Johnathan Ford was instrumental at stand-off, setting up Lloyd White for two quick-fire tries. Second row Andrew Dixon went over to increase the lead further, with Junior Vaivai powering through tackles for his second, as the scoreline reached 34-0 with barely half an hour played.
As the Panthers tried to stem the flow of points, Toulouse forward Justin Sangare was sin-binned for a cynical trip. Buoyed by the man advantage, the Panthers mounted a fightback, with James Saltonstall scoring in the corner to get Halifax on the board.
With seconds of the half remaining, Saltonstall collected a perfectly-weighted grubber to score his second, right on the hooter. A Connor Robinson conversion made the half time score 34-10 to Toulouse.
The Panthers started the second half in positive fashion, with Zak McComb and James Woodburn-Hall scoring quick fire tries to capitalise on the man advantage.
With the gap within two scores, a sin bin for Amir Bourouh swung the momentum back to the French side, as Casty went over to extend the lead to 40-22.
The Panthers kept fighting, with Ed Barber going in at the corner after an excellent kick from Connor Robinson. Two late Toulouse penalties extended the lead once more, with James Saltonstall’s hat trick a consolation score with two minutes to go.