Dewsbury Rams produced a spirited second half fightback in the south of France but it wasn’t enough to prevent them losing their Kingstone Press Championship Shield semi-final 36-22 at Toulouse Olympique.
Toulouse built up a healthy 24-0 interval lead but the Rams responded well after the break to score four tries and while never really threatening a comeback, it gave a hardy bunch of travelling supporters something to cheer.
Toulouse raced into a 12-0 lead inside the opening 12 minutes as prop Bastien Canet stormed through the middle and raced over for the opening score.
Full-back Mark Kheirallah converted and it was his break from halfway that then set up the French side’s second try with scrum half Louis Jouffret finishing the move well and Kheiralla was again on target with the goals.
Dewsbury’s hopes were dealt a blow when scrum-half Gareth Moore was sin-binned for a professional foul and Toulouse took advantage of the extra man to score a third try.
Mourad Kriouche slipped pass inside to Jonathan Ford, who in turn offloaded to Rhys Curran and the second rower met the ball at pace for force his way over and Kheirallah convertred.
Dewsbury looked to hit back but a dropped pass close to the Toulouse line saw the chance go begging.
Con Mika broke from halfway and fed Gavin Marguerite and he sent Jouffret charging between the posts, leaving Kheirallah a simple conversion to stretch the home side’s lead to 24-12.
Dewsbury began the second half brilliantly as Dom Speakman and Aaron Brown linked well to send Moore racing over and Paul Sykes converted.
Dewsbury attacked again and a lovely kick through by Moore was gathered by winger Dale Morton to score, with Sykes again improving.
Dewsbury had a third try disallowed as they piled on the pressure but Toulouse eased their nerves when they broke away and the move was ended when Canet sent Ford racing between the posts and Kheirallah converted.
Clament Boyer produced a strong run to grab Olympique’s sixth try, which Kheirallah goaled, but it was the Rams who finished strongly.
Ford was sin-binned in the 71st minute and the Rams gave Toulouse a few anxious moments.
A terrific passing move to the right saw Moor’s long pass open the defence and James Glover raced through a gap and over wide out for a 74th minute try which Sykes converted.
The Rams then moved play left and Macauley Hallett’s delayed pass sent Morton diving over for his second try in the corner.
Sykes was unable to convert, leaving the gap at 14 points and the Rams just ran out of time, with Toulouse looking very nervy and relieved to hear the full-time hooter.