BARROW Raiders arrived in Toulouse with high hopes of a repeat performance of their previous visit 18 months ago in the League One Grand Final.

On that occasion, they almost caused an upset, but this time around it was the French side who dominated and fully deserved their victory after dishing out a rugby league masterclass.

Raiders were outclassed, as only six of that Grand Final team were present in a more mature Toulouse side who underlined the gulf in class and quality on.

As Raiders coach Paul Crarey bemoaned his team’s difficult trip, he had no complaints with the result as his side capitulated against a classy French outfit looking to finish in the top four after last season’s slip-ups.

It was not pretty for Barrow or their loyal fans, but Toulouse showed their class throughout.

The day started badly for Crarey’s boys as the gale-force swirling wind in the compact stadium made life tricky as early as the second minute.

A soft penalty conceded by Raiders was shown no mercy by acting scrum half William Barthau, as the ex-Catalans and London Broncos player launched a high ball 15 metres out which fullback Brett Carter, in for regular Ryan Fieldhouse, fumbled, giving the initiative to Johnathon Ford, whose quick hands fed centre Rhys Curran to score.

French international Mark Kheirallah could not make the tricky kick as the wind again played its part.

Toulouse extended their lead in the 16th minute after left winger Tony Maurel intercepted a ball on his own 20 metres line and ran 55 metres before being well chased down by Declan Hulme, who saved the day close to the line. But the hosts had more men in support and found the try line in the left corner through Ford on the next play.

The Kheirallah kick was well executed from out wide as the lead reached double figures.

Raiders found themselves under constant pressure, limited to sporadic attacks which the French quite comfortably dealt with.

Joe Bullock and Glenn Riley led from the front, with good support from Jono Smith and Karl Ashall ,and hooker Dean Parata tried to penetrate but found the Toulouse defence stubborn as bad handling at the vital moment let the team down.

It was no surprise when replacement hooker Charles Bouzinac started the move 20 metres out for the next try. Good work from the experienced Curran fed Ford, with young and unpredictable prop Bastien Canet on hand to push over from short range. Kheirallah again converted.

Relentless pressure from Toulouse saw errors cost them more points, but although Barrow chased hard, they always seemed one step.

A big moment came on the half-hour, as Ford forced a goal-line drop-out.

Dallimore kicked from under the posts, but the ball found touch which put Toulouse back in the box-seat in front of the posts. Barrow looked panicky as the home side confidently passed the ball around and the predictable happened as Barthau eased oved from short range just right of the posts. As the wind eased slightly, Kheirallah converted again.

Toulouse thought they had scored again just before the break, but a Louis Therond try in the right corner was ruled out for obstruction.

As the wind eased slightly, it was much of the same in the second period.

Barrow started brightly and found some form as they threw the ball around with more confidence, but the final pass again was the culprit as Toulouse held their line well.

The French sealed the points five minutes into the second period after Bouzinac was held up on the line. Raiders almost held out, but quick thinking allowed young talented academy prop Justin Sangaré to push over close to the posts. Kheirallah completed the easiest kick to date as Raiders knew the game was beyond them.

Isolated attacks from Barrow, with bad finishing and solid French defence, kept their score on nil as Toulouse looked stronger and more hungry.

Another classy move, this time starting from Sangaré 10 metres out in front of the posts, with Bouzinac and Ford in support, saw replacement prop Clement Boyer almost stroll through past three defenders close to the sticks.

Play became scrappy and both sides looked ragged as Raiders took advantage of a rare lapse in the home defence.

From a penalty near halfway, B arrow advanced well and a well-timed Nathan Mossop pass out to Alec Susino split the defence to open the account. Dallimore pushed the kick wide, but the visiting fans at last had something to shout about.

Their joy was short-lived as Toulouse got their heads down and reapplied the pressure.

Bouzinac started the move 15 metres out, with prop Canet in good support to feed skipper Seb Planas at centre, who was well placed to receive the short pass and crash over from short range.

With the game beyond Barrow, hard-working centre Dan Toal received a yellow card with only eight minutes remaining to compound the misery.

Toulouse do not need handouts, but gratefully took advantage of the extra man and predictably scored again, this time from Ford in loads of space near the posts giving Eddy Pettybourne a short pass to jog over close to the posts.

The extra man helped again in the last minute as wide-open space down the Barrow right was exploited by Ford 20 metres out, as a well-drilled grubber to the left corner was met perfectly by Kheirallah, who reached the landmark of 1,500 points for the club.

It was not pretty from Barrow, and Crarey has to somehow take the positives as his team faces high- flying Featherstone next up.

Toulouse are a quality outfit and will make the top four if the big players stay fit, so it is no disgrace being beaten by such a good side.

This may not be much consolation to Crarey and his boys, but better teams will come down and receive the same treatment.


Toulouse Olympique: Mark Kheirallah, Tony Maurel, Rhys Curran, Seb Planas, Joe Therond, Johnathon Ford, William Barthau, Maxime Puech, Mourad Kriouache, Sam Rapira, Bastien Canet, Con Mika, Eddy Pettybourne.

Interchange: Charles Bouzinac, Clement Boyer, Tyla Hepi, Justin Sangaré.

Barrow Raiders: Brett Carter 7, Shane Toal 7, Dan Toal 7, Andy Litherland 7, Declan Hulme 7, Jamie Dallimore 7, Karl Ashall 7, Joe Bullock 8, Dean Parata 7, Glenn Riley 7, Jono Smith 7, Matty Holmes 7, Martin Aspinwall 7.

Interchange: Nathan Mossop 7, Alex Susino 8, Tom Walker 7, Ryan Duffy 7.

Star man: Joe Bullock – Worked his socks off for the full 80, but lacked support.

Attendance: 1,177.

Referee: Matt Rossleigh.


TWO MINUTES: Rhys Curran try, 4-0.

16 MINUTES: Johnathon Ford try, Mark Kheirallah conversion, 10-0.

25 MINUTES: Bastien Canet try, Kheirallah conversion, 16-0.

31 MINUTES: William Barthau try, Kheirallah conversion, 22-0.

45 MINUTES: Justin Sangaré try, Kheirallah conversion, 28-0.

51 MINUTES: Clement Boyer try, Kheirallah conversion, 34-0.

65 MINUTES: Alec Susino try, 34-4.

67 MINUTES: Seb Planas try, Kheirallah conversion, 40-0.

72 MINUTES: Dan Toal sin-binned.

73 MINUTES: Eddy Pettybourne try, Kheirallah conversion, 46-0.

79 MINUTES: Kheirallah try, 50-4.