The Round Ten fixture with most significance for the rest of Super League 2022 was the bottom of the table clash between the Leeds Rhinos and Toulouse Olympique XIII as the French side looked to secure the two points which would lift them above the Rhinos and push Jamie Jones-Buchanan´s side into bottom spot.
The two sides have met twice before: in the Challenge Cup in 2005 and in the Super 8´s play-off in 2018, the Leeds side emerging as victors on both previous occasions. But with Toulouse having pushed Hull KR last weekend and with a victory over St Helens under their belt, they came into the game high on confidence that they could spring an upset.
The bookies were struggling to split the two sides, giving the visitors a just a six-point start on the handicap coupon.
Ash Handley was denied a try on six minutes for a foot in touch after taking a Jack Sinfield pass as the Rhinos dominated early play. Rhyse Martin went close three minutes later after a great break following a Kruise Leeming pass but the Rhinos couldn´t breach the Toulouse line.
Toulouse managed a 40-20 for some relief and on the last tackle a Tony Gigot high kick was collected by Paul Marcon to ground and give the visitors the lead, somewhat against the run of play. Gigot added the conversion for a 6-0 lead after seventeen minutes.
A repeat set for the Rhinos ten from the Toulouse line was again thwarted by the French defence, the Rhinos unable to cross the whitewash.
The Rhinos finally got over the line when James Donaldson took a short pass from Brad Dwyer to go in from close range to settle the nerves and bring the crowd back to voice. Martin added the conversion to level the scores.
Tom Briscoe had a try ruled out on thirty-five when he took a Leeming high kick but was determined to have been offside as he began the chase.
With a couple of minutes remaining on the clock Brad Dwyer scored a great poachers try, as he scooted from acting half back, threw the dummy and dived in for a four pointer. Martin was again accurate with the boot to give the Rhinos a 12-6 half time lead in a forty minutes which they had dominated.
Ten minutes into the second half Tom Briscoe went over down the right wing after taking a great pass from Leeming. Martin pulled his conversion across the face of the goals, Leeds ten points ahead.
A Martin penalty goal made the margin two converted tries on fifty-six, Leeds edging to their second win of the season.
Leeming kicked a drop goal on the hour but Rhinos celebrations were dampened from the kick off as Briscoe pulled up injured as he raced to catch the kick and was helped off the field.
Toulouse grabbed a lifeline on sixty-three with Matty Russell going in at the corner, but Gigot was unable to convert from the touchline.
Another scoot from Dwyer saw him help himself to a brace with ten minutes left on the clock to secure the win. Martin added the conversion for 25-10, Leeds hoping to not repeat of what happened to them against Huddersfield a week ago.
Toulouse went in again on seventy-three minutes as Junior Vaivai crashed over the Leeds defender to ground. Once again Gigot missed the conversion, the Toulouse half back having an awful night with the boot. It was too little too late for the visitors and the Rhinos secured a crucial 25-14 win.
There will be joy in the Leeds camp that they have managed to record their second win of the season and put some daylight between themselves and tonight´s opposition in the relegation spot but some concern at the closeness of the score line and the loss of a couple more players to injury from what is already a decimated squad. Toulouse need to find a couple of win from somewhere but Leeds are likely to be the weakest side that they will face with Hull FC, Wakefield and Huddersfield coming up over their next three games.
Leeds Rhinos: Sutcliffe, Briscoe (T), Simpson, Broadbent, Handley, Sinfield, Leeming (DG), Oledzki, Dwyer (2T), Prior, Gannon, Martin (4G), Smith. Subs: Thompson, Mustapha, Donaldson (T), O´Connor.
Toulouse Olympique XIII: Ashall-Bott, Russell (T), Vaivai (T), Hankinson, Marcon (T), Marion, Gigot (G), Navarrete, Cunningham, Sangare, Stefani, Dixon, Bretherton. Subs: Pelissier, Springer, Pezet, Hansen.
Score Progression: 0-4, 0-6, 4-6, 6-6, 10-6, 12-6 : HT : 16-6, 18-6, 19-6, 19-10, 23-10, 25-10, 25-14 : FT.
Referee: Tom Grant.