An injury and suspension hit Leeds Rhinos side with three teenagers in their starting 13 were well beaten by Toulouse tonight.
The home side produced a professional display to keep the inexperienced Rhinos at arms length dominating the middle of the field and cruising to victory.
Toulouse showed great width to score their first half tries getting on the outside of a Leeds defence who were struggling in the middle largely due to their lack of props and subsequently sucked inwards. Then Toulouse would go wide with crisp handling enabling them to cross for a pair of tries for wingers Matty Russell and Latrell Schaumkel. The first went to Schaumkel down the right thanks to a lovely Gigot pass whilst the second was a neat play down the left involving Olly Ashall-Bott and Chris Hankinson.
It was mostly one way traffic in the first half with Leeds rarely getting a good look at the Toulouse line but it was a different case in the second stanza as their scramble defence was the key to wrapping up a famous victory for the French side.
It was unsurprising to see Toulouse dominate the first 10 minutes of the game against a young Leeds side. The French outfit kicked well and forced Leeds into a number of errors and were lucky to score as the first 10 minutes of the game concluded with Romain Navarrete attempting to power over but was denied by a great tackle from young Jack Sinfield which culminated in a knock on.
They did get the first points of the game eventually but it wasn’t a try. After a superb kick from Corey Norman, Toulouse won a penalty that Chris Hankinson turned into a simple two points.
In truth, as they dominated the middle of the field making far more metres than Leeds in the middle third, the home side deserved a try and it came courtesy of a superb pass from Tony Gigot to Latrell Schaumkel who alluded Ash Handley to score in the corner. The conversion took the lead out to 8-0.
Shortly after it was down the left wing Toulouse were scoring this time through Matty Russell who finished off a move involving Olly Ashall-Bott and Chris Hankinson to score his 11th try of the season and take the lead out to 14-0 when coupled with Hankinson’s goal.
If Leeds were going to get back into the game, they needed the next try and they very nearly got it at the start of the second half but an outstanding recovery from Guy Armitage denied them.
That was one of a myriad of chances Leeds squandered in the second half as the game opened up a little bit more for the West Yorkshire side but seemingly not enough.
Eventually Leeds gave themselves a sniff when Brad Dwyer dummied his way over in typical fashion. That gave Leeds hope but more outstanding Toulouse defence would make their night difficult.
The Rhinos would have one last chance with two minutes to go but Ash Handley’s offload couldn’t find its intended target as the ball slipped away along with the two points.
That was symptomatic of an outstanding performance from the survival chasing Toulouse and they wrapped up the win with a try for Joe Bretherton created by Corey Norman.