Rams miss out in freak conditions

Toulouse Olympique16

Dewsbury Rams 8

IT is probably fair to say that Dewsbury will not be sorry to see Toulouse return to the French League after suffering a third successive narrow defeat across the Channel in the last two seasons.

In almost freak conditions, first with oppressive heat, followed by a thunderstorm with lightning almost causing the match to be delayed, a high wind and torrential rain, the Rams had to settle for only a bonus point in this important Co-operative Championship fixture after being caught out in the second half.

There was no score at half-time, with the players sensibly being allowed a drinks break midway through the first half, and the game perhaps swung with Toulouse scoring a long-range interception try early in the second period to take a vital 6-0 lead.

The home side were down to 12 men at the time after having Nicolas Faure sin-binned for a late tackle on Dominic Brambani and the Rams looked set to take advantage when they created an overlap on the right. But what would have been a try-scoring pass for Michael Wainwright from Rob Spicer was snatched by home winger Mathieu Mercier, who raced clear for the score and Darren Nicholls added the goal.

It was a blow from which Dewsbury never really recovered despite a big effort, again led by the hard-working James Lockwood with good support from Anthony England and Richard Fletcher in a rare battle up front. They had changes among their subs with Liam Welham coming off the bench for his debut.

The Rams were unsettled when James Craven went off after 29 minutes with a rib injury, which limited their choice of substitutes as he did not return, and unsettled the back division as changes had to be made.

The 0-0 half-time scoreline was a fair reflection of a half which had taken its toll on both teams. After the interception setback, the Rams returned to the attack and cut the arrears when they were awarded a penalty in a good position but opted to play safe and take the two points with Pat Walker landing the goal.

The heavy rain affected the flow of the game but Toulouse adapted better, led by former Sheffield hooker Craig Cook, who scored two tries on his last appearance against Dewsbury for the Eagles.

Cook sparked the move which led to Greg Nicholls sending a grubber kick to the corner and Greg White pounced for the score. The goal kick was missed but the home side were a crucial eight points clear.

Dewsbury continued to work hard but their kicking was too often off target. Brambani sent one high ball to the corner where White just managed to beat Walker to the ball and scrambled it dead.

Nicholls continued to use the grubber kick against the wind and another one forced the Rams to knock the ball dead. From the drop-out Toulouse attacked again and another low kick from Nicholls led to Antoni Maria snatching the home side’s third try. Not surprisingly in the conditions Nicholls failed at goal.

The Rams continued to battle hard and Brambani sent up another high ball which caused problems and Luke Blake pounced for his second try in as many matches. Walker’s conversion cut the gap to six points and it was very much game on as Dewsbury continued to attack.

Toulouse held out and worked their way upfield and gained a penalty which Nicholls sent wide but he had eaten up vital seconds taking the kick.

When Walker sent a short drop-out to try and regain possession for the Rams, he failed to send the ball 10 metres, giving Nicholls another penalty chance which he took to clinch a hard-earned victory for the home team, leaving Dewsbury’s safety prospects still in the balance.

Toulouse: Bromley; Mercier, Planas, Couturier, White; Nicholls, Villegas; Ancely, Cook, Pelo, Larroyer, Maria, Houles. Subs: Faure, Martins, Tisseyre, Ormeno.

Dewsbury: Craven’ Wainwright, Spicer, Faal, Buchanan; Walker, Brambani; Crossley, Blake, England, Lockwood, Fletcher, Tonks. Subs: Menzies, Hirst, Welham, Smith.

Referee: Chris Leatherbarrow.

Attendance: 800.