Sheffield Eagles let a strong half-time position slip after a 50-6 thumping by Toulouse in the South of France.
The Eagles were just two adrift at the interval but 42 unanswered points allowed Toulouse to eventually sail to a comfortable victory to leave Mark Aston’s side pointless from the opening three rounds of the Betfred Championship season.
Aston’s side were up against it before kick off when skipper Matty James was ruled out through injury, whilst he knew before boarding the plane that Jack Ashworth, Menzie Yere, Joshua Toole and Nabil Djalout would all be missing.
The Eagles chief re-shuffled his squad with Ollie Davies, Daniel Igbinedion and Max Garcia all making their debuts, with the latter being confirmed on a one-year contract the day before the game.
Despite the enforced changes the early signs were good. The Eagles had already tested the home side’s defence after going close on six minutes, but two minutes later they were in front. Cory Aston bagged his first try following his return to the club, and Oscar Thomas slotted the conversion for the visitors.
Toulouse hit back four minutes later when Paul Marcon claimed a high kick to cross the whitewash, but Mark Kheirallah missed the extras.
The Eagles were then given a boost when Bastien Canet was sent to the bin, but Toulouse held out before taking the lead when they returned to their full complement of players. Mourad Kriouache’s try put the hosts in front but Kheirallah again missed the extras.
Aston’s side will have fancied their chances after the break, but three minutes into the second half Toulouse extended their advantage.
Constantine Mika completed a flowing move, and this time Kheirallah converted.
Mika’s try opened the floodgates as the Eagles were blown away by a devastating 20 minute spell by the hosts. Justin Sangare crossed for his first try, before ex-Eagle Stan Robin was next over the Eagles’ line after great work involving Mika and Kheirallah. Both tries were converted by Kheirallah.
A brace of tries from William Barthau put the game out of sight, as Kheirallah continued to pile on the points with the extras.
With 15 minutes remaining the hosts edged towards the 50 point mark through Sangare’s second try before Kheirallah rubbed further salt into wounds with a converted score with 12 minutes remaining.
Eagles: Millar; Lo, Blackmore, Spedding, Macani; Thomas, Aston; Lees, Fozard, Magrin; Davies, Bentley; Pick. Interchange: Garcia, Burns, Offerdahl, Igbinedion.
Scorers: Tries: Aston (8) Goals: Thomas 1/1
Toulouse: Kheirallah; Maurel, Ader, Marguerite, Marcon; Barthau, Robin; Bentley, Curran, Mika; Hepi, Bouzinac; Canet. Interchange: Krioache, Sangare, Pettybourne, Boyer.
Scorers: Tries: Marcon (12), Kriouache (30), Mika (43), Sangare (48, 65), Robin (50), Barthau (55, 60), Kheirallah (68) Goals: Kheirallah 7/9