Most opening games of the Magic Weekend are dour mid-table affairs, put on for a handful of spectators while those of clubs not involved make the most of the many hostelries which Newcastle has to offer. But this season is an exception with the bottom two clubs in the competition being thrown together in a massive tussle for two points which could prove decisive at the end of the season and was guaranteed to get the neutrals into the stadium early.
A win for Trinity would put them six points clear of Toulouse in the relegation spot, the French side with a near impossible mountain to climb, but should Toulouse overcome the slight odds against them and get their fourth win of the season, then the gap between the two sides would be down to just two points and all to play for.
The bookies nor pundits could really split them, neither could their two encounters so far this season, the St James Park pitch was all set for a match of epic significance.
The sides entered the field in scorching conditions feeling more like the south of France rather than the northeast of England.
The first try came from nowhere on seven minutes when Liam Hood scooted from dummy half to outsmart the Toulouse defenders and go in under the sticks. Max Jowitt, with the kicking duties in the absence of the injured Mason Lino, added the conversion.
Four minutes later Matty Ashurst chased down an Olly Ashall-Bott deflected Jacob Miller kick through to collect and ground, the perfect opening ten minutes for Trinity. Jowitt was again accurate with the boot. The Trinity nerves now settled.
A Miller 40-20 relieved the pressure on Wakefield and with a quick set restart following Brad Walker stepped through the defensive line in broken play, but he spilled the ball in the act of scoring under the tackle of Ashall-Bott.
Atter absorbing more Trinity pressure it was Toulouse who struck back on twenty-five with Corey Norman putting a short ball into the midriff of Joe Bretherton to walk through a gap and score. The kick from Chris Hankinson went wide of the uprights, Olympique still eight behind.
An offside against Toulouse resulted in a Jowitt penalty for 14-4. Then five minutes before the interval David Fifita crashed over for the third Wakefield try of the half after he exploited a gap left by Tony Gigot. Jowitt added the conversion as his coach smiled on after a terrific first half spoiled only by a David Fifita sin-binned for a professional foul in holding down in the tackle, right on the half time hooter.
Toulouse needed to take advantage of the extra man at the start of the second half and within two minutes Lambert Belmas crashed the from five metres after taking the ball in a gap as first receiver. Hankinson added the goal for 10-20.
It was back-to-back tries for Toulouse as they went in again through Matty Russell down the left-hand side as fast hands exploited the extra man, Ashall-Bott providing the last pass for a walk-in try on forty-five. Hankinson converted from the touchline to reduce the arrears to four points.
A devastating eight-minute period saw Nathan Peats cross the line on his back and reach over his head to get the ball on the ground. Hankinson added the game to put his Toulouse side into the lead for the first time in the game, a very expensive sin-binning of Fifita on the half time hooter.
On fifty-one, Fifita just back on the field, Brad Walker was sin-binned for lifting in the tackle, the Wakefield relief returned to desperation.
Miller ripped the ball in the tackle close to his own line on fifty-four, the ball picked up by Lattrel Schaumkel to drop over the line for a six-point lead, increased by another two by Hankinson with the French side in total control.
It was five tries in fifteen minutes with Russell flying over down the left-hand side to score in acrobatic style. This time Hankinson couldn´t add the touchline conversion but Toulouse were now in absolute control after looking out of the game at the interval.
Back to a full thirteen, Wakefield stopped the rot and Jai Whitbread went close to clawing one back on seventy-one but was held up centimetres from the Olympique line.
In the dying second Kelepi Tanginoa motored over to score by the posts, Jowitt adding the extra two for 26-32 but with just six seconds left Wakefield gave the ball some air and it was intercepted by Guy Armitage who went in under the sticks. Hankinson added the goal for a final score of 38-26.
This victory for Toulouse against the other side in danger of the drop has blown the race to avoid relegation wide open. Toulouse have earned themselves a lifeline by getting within two points of Trinity, the remainder of the season will be nail-biting for both clubs with wins crucial. Trinity still have a slight advantage, but they know that they cannot afford any more slips.
Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt (5G), Evans, Croft, Hall, Murphy, Miller, Walker (SB on 51), Arona, Hood (T), Whitbread, Pitts, Ashurst (T), Batchelor. Subs: Fifita (T, SB on 40), Butler, Crowther, Tanginoa (T).
Toulouse Olympique XIII: Ashall-Bott, Russell (2T), Hankinson (5G), Armitage (T), Schaumkel (T), Gigot, Norman, Navarrete, Peats (T), Alvaro, Peyroux, Bretherton (T), Paulo. Subs: Albert, Hansen, Belmas (T), Sangare.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, 12-4, 14-4, 18-4, 20-4, (SB) : HT : 20-8, 20-10, 20-14, 20-16, 20-20, 20-22, (SB), 20-26, 20-28, 20-32, 24-32, 26-32, 26-36, 26-38 : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Wakefield – Square – Toulouse.
Referee: Robert Hicks.