Batley Bulldogs suffered a 56-14 defeat on their third trip to Toulouse Olympique in the Kingstone Press Championship Shield last Saturday.
The fixture programme has certainly been unkind to Matt Diskin’s side, who have already travelled to France in the regular Championship season and Challenge Cup.
With Batley already securing a home semi-final in the Shield, they could still face a fourth trip to France should the Bulldogs and Toulouse reach the final.
Adan Gledhill made his 100th appearance in a Batley shirt but it will be a day he will want to largely forget as an understrength Bulldogs side were unable to compete against the Shield group leaders.
Several players were forced to miss the trip as they were unable to get time off work, making the task even harder.
Batley made a bright start and threatened early in the game before Toulouse clicked into gear and racked up 28 unanswered points in the space of 21 minutes before half-time.
It took the home side 19 minutes to hit the front when a clever kick by full-back Mark Kheirallah was gathered by stand-off Jonathan Ford to crash between the posts.
Scrum-half Stan Robin then burst through the Bulldogs defence to race over for the first of his hat-trick and two Kheirallah conversions had the French side up and running.
Substitute Mourad Kriouache stormed through the defence for Olympique’s third try, which Kheirallah improved.
Impressive handling by Kriouache and Ford sent Paul Marcon over in the corner for an unconverted try and Toulouse grabbed a fifth on the stroke of half-time when Robin gathered a clever inside pass to cross for his second and Kheirallah converted for a 28-0 interval lead.
Robin completed his hat-trick just a minute after the re-start when he capitalised on Bastien Ader’s 30 metre break to gather the pass and race away to score, with Kheirallah adding another goal.
Kala Leha began another impressive Toulouse passing move which ended with winger Tony Maurel rounding it off with an eighth try but Kheirallah’s conversion attempt struck a post.
Batley kept plugging away and were rewarded with two quick tries.
Dominic Brambani produced a lovely kick to the corner and winger Wayne Reittie won the race to dive on the ball to score an unconverted try.
Gledhill capped his 100th Batley appearance when he offloaded to Brad Hill, who brushed aside a couple of defenders to crash over and Brambani converted.
Toulouse responded and Kheirallah was rewarded with two tries in as many minutes between the posts, giving himself another couple of simple goals.
It was plucky Batley who had the final word though when James Harrison showed great strength to force his way over for a deserved last minute consolation try.