Toulouse Olympique 6-30 Hull FC
Hull FC travelled with a severely understrength side to the South of France but were able to come away with the two points thanks to a dominant second-half performance at Stade Ernest-Wallon.
First-half tries from Josh Simm and Ellis Longstaff gave Hull a four-point lead at the break, hitting back from James Cunningham’s opener.
However, the Black & Whites dominated after the break, and tries for debutants Will Smith & Harvey Barron, as well as a first of the season for Jack Brown, were enough to give Hull the two points.
Brett Hodgson was forced into three changes from the side that faced Castleford Tigers last time out, with Connor Wynne and Ligi Sao picking up suspensions in the fixture and Joe Lovodua missing his first game of the season through illness.
Coming into the side were Will Smith and Harvey Barron for their debuts, whilst Matty Laidlaw returned to the interchange bench for just his third career appearance.
That meant Brett Hodgson named a much-changed side, featuring just seven of the club’s squad numbers 1 – 17.
A major reshuffle for Hodgson meant that Jake Connor was named at centre for the first time since March 2020, with Will Smith named at half-back and Jack Walker retaining his place at full-back.
Sylvain Houles also made several changes from Toulouse’s last outing, with Matty Russell, Justin Sangare and Justin Paulo dropping out of the side.
Hull FC Academy product James Cunningham was a beneficiary for the French side, starting the game at Loose Forward.
An even first half was played out at the Stade Ernest-Woolon, though Hull FC headed into the changing rooms at the break four points to the good, thanks to tries from loanees Josh Simm & Ellis Longstaff after James Cunningham’s early try put the hosts in front.
The first chance of the half came Hull’s way, as Jake Connor’s quick hands released Darnell McIntosh down the right-hand side, but the winger chose to take the tackle himself when a pass to the supporting Ellis Longstaff was perhaps the more attacking option.
Toulouse grew into the game and struck first through former Hull man James Cunningham. Josh Simm dropped a yardage carry under pressure from Toulouse defenders, and Cunningham was alert to the loose ball and able to find the in-goal area with the attention from several Hull men.
It didn’t take long for the Black & Whites to strike back. A smart grubber kick from Jake Connor forced a goal line drop out, which Scott Taylor and then Brad Fash carried deep into Toulouse territory. Hull got the ball out wide, and Jake Connor, sweeping round in a traditional full-back position, found a pass to Josh Simm for a walk in in the corner, which Luke Gale converted from the touchline to draw the tie level.
Not long after Hull took the lead. Jack Walker was tackled by offside kick chasers which moved Hull into good field position. Mitieli Vulikijapani carried the ball deep into French territory but was stopped just shy of the line. The Black & Whites moved the ball to the other edge, and Will Smith’s kick went through the legs of a Toulouse man to the onrushing Ellis Longstaff to score.
Toulouse had the final real chance of the half, but Corey Norman’s ambitious pass to Ilias Bergal was forward when Sylvain Houles men had a huge numerical advantage on the Hull right.
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Toulouse Olympique 6 (6)
Try: Cunningham. Goal: Hankinson
Hull FC 30 (10)
Tries: Simm, Longstaff, Smith, Brown, Barron. Goals: Gale (5).