Sheffield Eagles v Toulouse Olympique XIII
Sunday 1st July 2018, 15:00pm
Championship - Round: 19
Stats over last 8 encounters
Sheffield Eagles play host to Toulouse Olympique on Sunday as both sides aim to boost their respective campaigns with an important victory.
The Eagles have only won once at the Olympic Legacy Park this season while Toulouse are on course for a debut Qualifiers appearance as they currently sit second in the Betfred Championship table.
Sheffield’s home woes were on show last Saturday as Featherstone Rovers triumphed 40-6.
Toulouse head into this weekend’s contest following an emphatic 70-14 victory over Rochdale Hornets at the Crown Oil Arena.
Five players – Con Mika, Mark Kheirallah, Mourad Kriouache, Charles Bouzinac and William Barthau – notched braces while Maxime Puech, Bastien Canet and Bastien Ader all crossed the whitewash too.
Have We Met Before?
Sheffield faced Toulouse at Stade Ernest Argeles way back in round three and the latter came out on top 50-6.
The scoreline got away from the Eagles in the second half after they went into the break just two points down.
Cory Aston broke the deadlock before Paul Marcon and Mourad Kriouache gave the hosts a slender lead at the interval.
Four tries in 15 minutes put Toulouse in the driving seat and they kept their foot on the gas with three more scores in the final quarter.
Justin Sangare and William Barthau registered braces while Con Mika, Stan Robin and Mark Kheriallah also added four-pointers for Sylvain Houles’ side.
The Form Book
The Eagles’ last five games have resulted in two victories and three losses. After a valiant effort against London Broncos in round 14, Sheffield bounced back with a superb showing in Blackpool at the expense of Barrow Raiders.
A loss to fellow strugglers Swinton Lions gave Mark Aston’s side a reality check before defeating Batley Bulldogs on their own patch.
However, the Eagles were unable to back up that victory against Batley as Featherstone dominated proceedings at the OLP last weekend.
Meanwhile, Toulouse are on course for a top four spot and have won three of their last five outings.
Olympique tasted defeat at Magic Weekend to Toronto Wolfpack before beating London Broncos in Blackpool.
Two home games against Batley and Leigh followed but the French side could only claim victory in one; getting the better of the Bulldogs before losing to Kieron Purtill’s rejuvenated Centurions.
Their last outing certainly showed their credentials with a commanding victory against Rochdale.
Sheffield were powerless to stop Featherstone winning the ruck battle on Saturday as the Rovers’ pace caused severe damage to the hosts’ defence.
Mark Aston will be hoping for a better performance from all of his chargers at the weekend, and in particular in the forwards who will have a big job to stop the Olympique pack.
Mark Offerdahl and Jon Magrin started against Featherstone but the latter was ruled out of the action early in the first half due to a facial injury.
Joshua Toole, Shaun Pick – Sheffield’s only try-scorer on the day – and Matt James were in the back-row.
Toole picked up a concussion knock during the first 40 minutes but DoR Aston is hoping that the extra day turnaround could be enough for the Irish international to be available.
Oliver Davies, Max Garcia and Mike Weldon were introduced from the bench but weren’t able to turn the tide as Featherstone sealed a comfortable win.
Toulouse will come to the Olympic Legacy Park with a spring in their step and the forwards will be aiming for another big performance.
Clement Boyer and Joe Bretherton were the starting front-rowers against the Hornets while try-scorers Mika and Canet were in the back-row alongside utility man Anthony Marion.
Hooker Kriouache got on the scoresheet, as did interchange forwards Puech and Bouzinac. Coach Houles had further firepower from the bench as Tyla Hepi and Sebastien Planas were brought into the action.
The OLP’s surface should make for a fast game and the Eagles will need to have learnt from last weekend’s defeat if they are to cope with a professional Olympique outfit.
By Dan Fowler