Bulldogs slip to defeat on Toulouse trip

Try scorer: Alistair Leak opened Batley's account with a fifth minute try in Toulouse.
Try scorer: Alistair Leak opened Batley's account with a fifth minute try in Toulouse.

Batley Bulldogs slipped to a 44-6 defeat away to promoted French side Toulouse Olympique in their opening Kingstone Press Championship game last Saturday.

Batley took the lead with Alistair Leak’s fifth minute try but the Bulldogs were poor after that as Toulouse ran in nine tries.

The Bulldogs began well as Cain Southernwood launched a high kick, which a home defender fumbled and quick thinking hooker Leak reacted to gather and score between the posts.

Patch Walker converted and the travelling Bulldogs fans celebrated the perfect start.

Those celebrations didn’t last long as Batley led for just six minutes with Toulouse hitting back to stun the Bulldogs with three quickfire tries.

Toulouse forced Batley to drop out and from the resulting attack, Anthony Marion and Stan Robin linked to send centre Gavin Marguerite over for an unconverted try.

Winger Kuni Minga was on the end of a fine move involving Johnathon Minga and Bastien Ader to score close to the posts and Mark Kheirellah converted.

Minga was again the benefactor soon after, completing another neat move, after Rhys Curran opened the Bulldogs defence with a break from halfway.

Kheirellah’s conversion attempt from wide out struck a post but Toulouse extended their lead as Minga completed a 16 minute hat-trick as play was moved quickly wide and the winger produced a spectacular dive for the corner to beat an attempted tackle by Wayne Reittie and Sam Smeaton.

Kheirellah was unable to convert but Toulouse led 18-6 at half-time.

Batley attempted to hit back at the start of the second half and had a spell of pressure but were repelled by the French side’s defence.

Having weathered the storm, Toulouse extended their lead when Anthony Marion and Ford linked to send Tyla Hepi over between the posts and Kheirellah landed the simple goal.

Rhys Curran crashed over from five metres out to score the home side’s sixth try, with Kheirellah’s goal extended their lead to 30-6.

Batley were now struggling to contain the rampant French side, who went on to add a further three tries in the final 16 minutes.

Prop Clement Boyer added his name to the try scorers and winger Tony Maurel then crossed wide out as Toulouse extended their lead to 38-6.

Olympique marked a winning return to the Championship with a ninth try in the final minute.

Batley were attacking 30 metres out when Ford intercepted a pass and broke away.

Ford fed Marguerite wide on the left and the winger sprinted clear of the scrambling Bulldogs defence.

Three Batley players gave chase but were unable to prevent Marguerite scorching down the touchline to score in the corner.

Kheirallah landed the touchline conversion to cap a fine display by the French outfit, who marked their intentions of being among the leading contenders for a top four finish.