After their Magical win over Wakefield Trinity last weekend the smell of Super League survival was strong in the nostrils of Toulouse Olympique XIII as they welcomed a Leeds Rhinos side missing a few of their stars and dreamed what extra pressure another two points would put on the sides above them.
Toulouse were unchanged from their victorious side of a week ago whereas the Rhinos were without the services of Zak Hardaker, Aidan Sezer, Matt Prior and late withdrawal through illness who all added to an increasing list of unavailable Leeds personnel.
The bookies had made the Rhinos slight favourites to take the points but only gave the home side a four-point start on the handicap coupon. This was the fourth meeting between the two sides, but the first on French soil, the Rhinos having win the previous three.
Toulouse had the best of the opening exchanges against a young Leeds side and when Rhyse Martin knocked-on ten from his own line the home side went close but knocked on in the act of scoring.
The opening points came on fourteen minutes thanks to the boot of Chris Hankinson who slotted over a fourteenth minute penalty goal after a Rhinos indiscretion.
On eighteen minutes Ash Handley was beaten by a cut out pass from Tony Gigot into the hands of Latrell Schaumkel who had the space to go in wide. Hankinson added the conversion, Toulouse with an 8-0 lead.
Toulouse scored their second try on twenty-eight with Matty Russell exploiting space wide left and going over in the corner. Hankinson added the conversion for 14-0, the home side making easy work of the Rhinos in a half where they never looked like troubling the scorers.
Neither side was able to register points until the sixty-seventh minute when Brad Dwyer scooted from dummy half to dive over the line for Leeds first points of the game. Rhyse Martin added the conversion, the Rhinos back within eight points with just over ten minutes remaining.
With three minutes left a Richie Myler break was the perfect chance for the Rhinos to score their second but the ball went to ground as it was passed to Dwyer.
Toulouse ended the game with a third try of their own to seal the win with Joe Bretherton going over and Hankinson adding the extras for a 20-6 win, the second half a 6-6 draw.
Toulouse are finally off the bottom of the table, albeit on points difference over Wakefield Trinity who play tomorrow afternoon against Hull KR in what has become a must win game for the West Yorkshire side. The loss is another blow to the Rhinos play-off aspirations and while Rohan Smith will not put forward any excuses for the defeat, the Rhinos were without a host of regulars against a resurgent Olympique side.
Toulouse Olympique XIII: Ashall-Bott, Russell (T), Hankinson (3G), Armitage, Schaumkel (T), Gigot, Norman, Navarrete, Peats, Alvaro, Peyroux, Bretherton (T), Paulo. Subs: Albert, Hansen, Belmas, Sangare.
Leeds Rhinos: Myler, Handley, Martin (G), Simpson, Fusitu´a, Johnson, Sinfield, Oledzki, O´Connor, Walters, Gannon, Bentley, Smith. Subs: Thompson, Tindall, Dwyer (T), Donaldson.
Score Progression: 2-0, 6-0, 8-0, 12-0, 14-0 : HT : 14-4, 14-6, 18-6, 20-6 : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Toulouse.
Referee: Jack Smith.