Round ten of the Betfred Championship saw some big scores, a bit of a surprise and a humdinger of a game in the late kick off between the Swinton Lions and the Sheffield Eagles.

There was a Saturday game in the south of France as Toulouse Olympique XIII took on the Barrow Raiders while the remainder of the games took place on Sunday afternoon.

The league leaders going into the weekend, the Toronto Wolfpack, were at Batley to face the Bulldogs, London Broncos looked to make amends for a disappointing Easter as they travelled to Halifax. Featherstone wanted to keep up the pressure on the top two with a home derby against the Dewsbury Rams and Leigh Centurions saw the top four coming into view as they faced Rochdale.

It was the easiest of games for Toulouse who returned, at least for twenty-four hours, to the top of the league with a 50-4 demolition of Barrow Raiders. First half tries from Curran, Ford, Canet and Barthau along with three conversions from Kheirallah saw them with a 22-0 lead at the interval. Sangare and Boyer had both added second half tries before a Susino four-pointer was Barrow’s only score of the game. The icing on the cake came through tries from Planas, Pettybourne and Kheirallah for nine individual try scorers on the afternoon.

Toronto Wolfpack leapfrogged the French sides on Sunday afternoon with a hard fought 26-18 victory over the Batley Bulldogs.

The shock of the day came at Halifax where, despite two sin-binnings in the first half, the home side overcame the London Broncos to inflict a 26-16 defeat and maintain their challenge for a top four finish. London had taken the lead through Williams before a Tyrer try reduced the arrears to 4-6. Kear  added London’s second on twenty-nine but three tries in seven minutes from Grady, Grix and McGrath proved the fatal blow as Halifax went into the turnaround with a 20-10 lead. Tyrer added his second try just after the restart and a late Lovell try for the Broncos was mere consolation.

The result at Leigh never looked in any doubt as the home side continue their return to form after a poor start to the season. First half tries from Hall, Reynolds, Acton, Evans, Hansen and Bailey with just a solitary response from Hatton for Rochdale, gave the home side a 36-6 half time lead. Kay drew first blood for the visitors in the second half but then it was all plain sailing for the Centurions as Hall, Reynolds, Acton and Bailey all completed their braces and Hood and Owens both grabbed four pointers in the last ten minutes. Ten goals from thirteen attempts for Reynolds gave a final score of 68-10.

Leigh weren’t the only big scorers of the day as Featherstone scored eight tries themselves to maintain their third spot.  Sheriffe had given the Dewsbury Rams the lead on nine before Farrell scored for the home side to level things up. Brown made it 12-6 to Dewsbury but six minutes later it was 12-12 after Farrell got his second. The tit-for-tat continued when Hallett made it 18-12 to the visitors but tries from Newman and Wildie, the first of his hat-trick,  put Fev’ 22-18 ahead at the interval. The second half was all Rovers with two more tries from Wildie, Newman getting the second of his double and Briscoe adding the eighth try of the afternoon to seal the 46-18 win.

The closest game of the day was played out between the bottom two sides at Heywood Road with The Sheffield Eagles emerging as the victors over the Swinton Lions and lifting themselves into tenth place. Two tries from Blackmore, both converted by Thomas had given the Eagles a 12-2 interval lead but Webb opened the Swinton scoring on forty-eight for 12-8. Macani scored the Eagles third try on fifty-one but a great Swinton fightback saw tries form Mullen and Hankinson which tied the scores at 18-18 after seventy-five minutes. Brown stole the points for Sheffield with a seventy-sixth minute drop goal to heap on the Swinton misery.

Toronto have a slender one point lead at the top over Toulouse and Featherstone but another London loss sees them drop back towards the chasing pack where Leigh and Halifax are poised to strike out for a top four finish and a place in the middle eight’s. What was looking like a clear four horse race before Easter now seems a lot more complicated.


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