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Toronto Wolfpack bounce back from Toulouse loss by defeating Batley Bulldogs


HULL, England — The Toronto Wolfpack bounced back from a lopsided loss in Toulouse by running in seven tries Sunday in a 34-12 win over the Batley Bulldogs in Betfred Championship rugby league play.

The game at KCOM Craven Park was the second half of a doubleheader with Catalan Dragons edging the hometown Hull Kingston Rovers 18-16 in Super League play in the opener.

The skies opened in the second half of the Toronto match with players forced to deal with wind and a heavy deluge.

Toronto coach Brian McDermott made five changes from the team beaten 46-16 in Toulouse last week and got the response he wanted with six tries in the first half.

Matty Russell and Ricky Leutele scored two tries apiece and Andrew Dixon, Jack Logan and Jon Wilkin added singles for Toronto, which led 28-6 at the break. Gareth O'Brien kicked two conversions and Ryan Brierley added another conversion.

"I think the first half was exceptional," said Wilkin. "The second half, the conditions were a bit of a leveller. It was very difficult for both sides to play."

O'Brien's conversion of Wilkin's try early in the second half gave him 1,000 over a career that dates back to 2012. He has scored 238 of those for the Wolfpack.

Dave Scott and Louis Jouffret scored tries for Batley, which came into the game in 11th place in the second-tier Championship. Scott added two conversions.

The Wolfpack (6-1-0) are in sole possession of first place in the second-tier Championship with 12 points. Toulouse (5-2-0), Sheffield (5-1-0) and York City (5-1-0) all won on the weekend to increase their points total to 10.

Batley (1-6-0) has lost three straight.

Russell dove over in the corner in the fifth minute to open the scoring. Dixon went over six minutes later after a pair of Batley errors in its own end for a converted try that made it 10-0 Toronto.

Batley replied in the 15th minute after a 35-metre linebreak by Dane Manning sent Scott racing in alone. Scott added the conversion to cut the lead to 10-6.

Logan scored his first in Wolfpack colours in the 26th minute, touching down a Josh McCrone kick in the corner for a 14-6 advantage. Minutes later Leutele, after an acrobatic catch, dove into the corner with a sensational one-handed finish to extend the lead to 18-6.

Russell added his second in the 32nd minute beating two defenders to get over the line for a 22-6 lead. Leutele, who won an NRL championship in Australia with Cronulla Sharks, then intercepted a pass and raced 60-plus yards for a try in the 38th minute to make it 28-6.  

Russell looked to have scored third early in a rainy second half but his foot just touched the sideline before he crossed the tryline. Wilkin did get over in the 55th minute after a Batley penalty gave Toronto excellent field position.

Batley replied with an opportunistic try in the 60th minute. Manning got to a grubber kick before it crossed the dead-ball line and tapped it back to Jouffret to touch down for the try. O'Brien, the Toronto fullback, had expected the ball to bounce out.

The Wolfpack injury list included Liam Kay, Greg Worthington, Ashton Sims, Bob Beswick, Joe Mellor and Jake Emmitt.

Logan, on loan from Hull FC., started on the wing. Forward Brad Fash, another loanee from Hull FC, started on the interchange bench.

Toronto won the two previous meetings between the two in 2018: 64-18 at home and 26-18 at Batley. 

The Wolfpack next play Sunday at Halifax RLFC (4-3-0).

The Canadian Press

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