The Toronto Wolfpack have been looking for revenge all season, and are now one win away from their ultimate goal following a 40-24 semifinal victory over Toulouse Olympique on Saturday.
With a victory in the Grand Final, Toronto would secure promotion to the coveted Super League.
Ricky Leutele scored three tries, while Joe Mellor added two of his own for Toronto. Leutele was named Man of the Match, while Mellor submitted a dominant performance, driving the attack with a number of crushing runs that forced Toulouse to concede defensively.
"I think he's been great for the last 10 games we've played. Probably that was his best game for us so far,” Wolfpack head coach Brian McDermott said of Leutele post-game.
Although Toronto eventually turned the result into a mere formality, Toulouse started out strong and tested the host’s resilience early, nearly scoring a try at the four-minute mark.
After an uneasy 10 minutes, the Wolfpack opened the scoring, with Mellor bursting through a gap on the outside, set up by a huge run through the inside center from Leutele. Gareth O’Brien converted, and Toronto jumped out to a 6-0 lead.
Mellor and Leutele’s partnership shone again, with O’Brien dictating the offense for large stretches. O’Brien found Leutele for his first try of the game, after a strong linkup between Mellor and Leutele set up the scoring chance, increasing the lead to 10-0.
Toulouse’s Mark Kheirallah — far and away their best player on Saturday — scored a try to cut the lead to 10-6. It spurred the Wolfpack’s most dominant sequence of the game, however, as tries from Leutele, Josh McCrone and Mellor gave Toronto a 26-6 lead, earning a standing ovation from the 9,325 in attendance at halftime.
Toronto picked up where it left off in the second half, as a Liam Kay scored off a cutting inside run, darting through the Toulouse defence at the 47th-minute, jumping out to a commanding 30-6 lead.
McDermott was pleased with his team’s overall effort, but cautioned against becoming complacent after racking up 40 points midway through the second half.
Leutele notched his hat-trick on a brilliant individual run, scampering away from an outmatched Toulouse group, the final score from Toronto on the day. Kheirallah singlehandedly tried to bring Toulouse back, adding tries and conversions in the 75th and 78th minute, respectively, but it was too little, too late.
Toronto now awaits the winner of the Toulouse-Featherstone Rovers semifinal and will host the winner on October 5.
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