Just a few weeks ago this game looked insignificant the way Salford stormed through the opening rounds of the Qualifiers. After a narrow defeat at Leeds followed by a disappointing display at London, the old adage your only as good as your last game starts to ring true. The Red Devil’s have lacked composure, struggled to create chances and looked blunt on attack without the suspended Jackson Hastings. From such a strong position Salford now look vulnerable and can’t afford another slip up with Leeds, Hull Kingston Rovers and Toronto Wolfpack chasing the top three spots.
Toulouse come in to this match full of confidence after there terrific win last weekend at home to Hull kr. The Frenchmen have been very competitive this season with there flamboyant style of play and aggressive pack. Just a fortnight ago they came up just short in Canada losing 13-12 at Toronto.
Qualifiers so far;
Hull kr H Won
Toronto A Lost
London A Lost
Widnes H Won
Halifax H Won
Leeds A Lost
Last meeting 26th January 2003 Challenge Cup.
Salford 26 Toulouse 10
Full-back Jason Flowers scored the first and last tries for Salford, with Alan Hunte, Stuart Littler and Cliff Beverley touched down.
Australian James Wynne provided Toulouse’s only real highlight, a searing break setting up winger Ludovic Perolari.
Toulouse then got the score back to 14-10 when full-back Dave Mulholland slid over for a 67th-minute try and stand-off Julien Gerin added the angled conversion.
But the Reds quickly regained the ascendancy, with second rower Simon Baldwin breaking clear to send Beverley over for his first try for the club.
Flowers then sealed on the win with his second try, Gavin Clinch adding a second goal.
It was a fiery contest, ill tempered at times but Karl Harrison’s side just did enough to progress to the next round of the Challenge cup. It would be an exciting cup run in 2003.
The teams that day were;
Salford: Flowers; Hunte, Littler, Beverley, Arnold; Bowker, Clinch; Coley, Alker, P Highton, Baldwin, Lowe, Marsh. Substitutes: Charles, D Highton, Gorski, Baynes.
Toulouse: Mulholland; Perolari, Zitter, Kelly, Couturier; Gerin, Wynne; Pramil, Leib, Rodriquez, Amigas, Raguin, Robinson. Substitutes: Gay, Delpoux, Frayssinet, Estebanez.
Referee: C Morris (Huddersfield)
Above, Toulouse’s class of 2003.
Salford were drawn away at Barrow then Hull kr with two solid victories gained. The Quarter Final draw saw St. Helens end our cup run at the Willows. The Saints were playing some wonderful stuff but despite being a league below Salford held them 6-6 at the break. St. Helens running away with the tie in the second half though as there class and pace was a bit to much.
Toulouse Olympique in Focus
Founded in 1937, two years after the French Rugby League Federation, they are six-time winners of the French Rugby League Championship.
Toulouse hosted the first ever French rugby league Lord Derby Cup Final in 1935 when Lyon Villeurbanne beat XIII Catalan at the Stade des Minimes. The first rugby league club in the city were Gallia de Toulouse who started the 1935 season but lasted only two matches before dropping down to the amateur level of the newly introduced sport. Toulouse Olympique were formed in 1937 by Jean Galia and played their first league match on 24 October 1937 losing 14-44 at home against RC Albi at their new home the Arnaune Stadium now called the Stade des Minimes. The club finished 8th in that debut season under coach Jean Galia. In their second season, 38/39 they reached the cup final losing 3-7 against XIII Catalan and finished 5th in the league. The clubs last match before the war was against Villefranche de Lauragais winning 62-5. During the war years, like other rugby league clubs in France, the club were forced to play rugby union following the ban on rugby league by the Vichy regime in France.
In 1944, Toulouse reached the Semi-Final of the French Cup in rugby union. In the meantime the Arnauné stadium was confiscated by the State, like most of the assets of the French Federation of rugby league. Following liberation by the Allies and the restoration of the French Championship, the club were on the losing side twice when they met Carcassonne in the finals for the 1944-45 and 1945-46 competitions. After two decades away from the top, another strong team emerged that included Pierre Lacaze and under coach Georges Aillères having finished runner-up in the league in 63/64, they then lifted their first league title the following season beating US Villeneuve in the final 47-15. During the 1960s they also reached four cup finals but lost them all, 1962 against RC Roanne XIII 10-16, 1963 against AS Carcassonne 0-5, 1964 against US Villeneuve 2-10 and 1968 against AS Carcassonne 2-9. During the early 70s they lifted two more league titles, in season 72/73 they beat Marseille XIII 18-0 and in 74/75 they beat AS Saint Esteve 10-9. Their 1976 cup final defeat to XIII Catalan 8-23 would be their last final appearance in either league or cup until the new millennium.
The club played in the Rugby Football League’s Championship competition in 2009 and 2010. They returned to the Elite One Championship in 2011, but in 2016 again joined the RFL system, this time in League 1, the third tier of English rugby league, being promoted to the Championship at the end of that season.
Toulouse are a club steeped in history and with Catalans success in this years Challenge cup Rugby League in the South of France is alive and kicking. Perhaps two French Teams in Super League is not that far on the horizon.
The Qualifiers equation has started to look a little complicated this week with 6 sides still in with a shout of Super League status for 2019.
For Salford Red Devils the maths is really quite simple. Victory on Thursday night is all they need to be safe. Ian Watson welcomes back Jackson Hastings from suspension which should give the hosts a huge boost. Toulouse proved last weekend they are a very dangerous proposition with a sparkling display to put Hull Kingston Rovers away 34-23. With what’s at stake this game has all the tension and nerves of a Million pound game but just a week early. For Salford supporters defeat is unthinkable, this would leave the Red Devil’s hanging on for other results to fall in there favour over the weekend.
Once again it’s a game not to be missed.
Enjoy the match everyone.