BATLEY BULLDOGS remembered their late teammate Archie Bruce as they battled hard in defeat at Toulouse.
Before Saturday evening’s kick-off there was a moving minute of applause for the young Batley player who tragically died after the corresponding fixture last year.
Despite the impression the scoreline might give (34-14), Batley came to Toulouse with serious intent and made life difficult for their hosts with very strong defence and some dynamic running, especially in the first half.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring after 10 minutes when Dale Morton dotted down in the corner after a well-executed grubber kick by Aiden Ineson during Batley’s best spell.
Their lead was cancelled out by a kick over the top by Johnathon Ford, gathered by Mark Kheirallah and finished off by Harrison Hansen under the posts.
Just before half-time Batley took the lead thanks to a penalty slotted by Morton.
Toulouse and the Bulldogs will have had reason to regret not taking their chances as, despite the dry conditions, both sides dropped too many balls in the opposition 20-metre zone.
The penalty count was building, with seven against Toulouse and three against Batley, and the referee handed out a general warning to the French side just before the break.
In the second half Toulouse opened up the game and, on 45 minutes, a long miss-out pass found Paul Marcon, who just made it to the corner.
Toulouse were still finding it difficult to break down the Bulldogs’ defence but, after 52 minutes, Stanislas Robin ran two-thirds of the way across the field on the 20m line and eventually found a gap in the wall and darted through to score.
With the match still very much in the balance, the frustration of the two teams threatened to boil over when a scuffle broke out after a disallowed try.
The referee decided to calm things down by sin-binning Justin Sangaré and Tyler Dickinson. Five minutes later, William Barthau also found himself in the bin.
Despite being down a man, Toulouse continued to press with Kheirallah spinning out of a tackle to score next to the posts to take his points tally for Toulouse past the 1,500 mark.
On 69 minutes, not for the first time, a Constantine Mika offload found James Bell and this time it resulted in a try under the posts.
Batley were not finished, and a nice short pass put Toby Everett in under the posts.
The final word, however, was for the French side as a sweeping move put young Hugo Pezet, a product of the Toulouse academy, in for a try on his senior debut.