French side Toulouse Olympique XIII rolled into the Halton Stadium to take on a Widnes Viking side who are treading water in 2019 after their pre-season punitive points deduction. A win would temporarily lift Toulouse into second spot ahead of the remaining fixtures but a loss would leave the door open for Leigh and Featherstone to overtake them and demote them to fifth come the end of the weekend.
A win for Widnes would lift them above the Dewsbury Rams into eleventh spot and come closer to guaranteeing their Championship spot for the 2020 season when they will look to launch their bid to return to Super League.
James Child was in the middle with the whistle, he must have been delighted when he was allocated a French side for the second weekend running.
Error strewn opening exchanges set a low benchmark. But with three minutes on the clock Junior Vaivai went under the Widnes defenders with a dart from acting half back. Mark Kheirallah added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
Kheirallah kicked a penalty goal on twelve minutes from thirty metres to extend the lead.
Tom Gilmore knocked-on over the Toulouse line on twenty, referee Child on the spot to deny the try. Widnes were struggling to find their way through a strong Toulouse defence.
Tyla Hepi went close within five minutes of the restart but the Widnes defence did well to haul him down just short. Three consecutive sets later Constantine Mika crashed the line off a short Kheirallah pass to ground and score Toulouse’s second of the afternoon. Kheirallah was unable to add the conversion, the visitors leading by 12-0.
Within minutes Tom Gilmore put an inside pass to Jack Owens for him to score by the right upright and get Widnes right back in the match. Owens added the conversion, the home side now just one converted try behind.
On the hour mark Toulouse relieved the pressure again when Ilias Bergal got on the end of a Junior Vaivai kick to the corner to ground. Kheirallah couldn’t add the extra two.
Within two minutes Joe Bretherton took the ball ten metres out from Johnathan Ford to sprint through a gap and ground for a simple try. Kheirallah added the conversion for 22-6, the points going back to France with the visitors.
A close range try from Jordan Devaria added icing to the cake as the Widnes defence melted away in front of him. Kheirallah added the conversion, Olympique XIII now 28-6 ahead.
Three minutes from time Hep Cahill took a Johnson offload and powered over the line to restore some Widnes pride. Owens added the conversion for a final score of 12-28.
Toulouse edged the opening forty and looked like they would pull away early in the second but Widnes fought back and for a few minutes looked like they might give Toulouse a game. But three tries in thirteen minutes were enough to close out the game and secure the two points that lifted them above the York City Knights into second place in the table.
Vikings: Owens (T,2G), Ince, Gelling, Brand, Hatton, Craven, Gilmore, Chapelhow J, Johnstone, Norman, Wilde, Robson, Cahill (T). Subs: Hansen, Dugdale, Chapelhow T, Leuluai.
Olympique: Kheirallah (4G), Marguerite, Jassaume, Vaivai J (T), Bergal (T), Robin, Ford, Vaivai P, Marion, Evans, Mika (T), Bretherton (T), Bell. Subs: Parata, Hepi, Dezaria (T), Sangare.
Referee: James Child.