Widnes Vikings’ season went from bad to worse after losing 42-22 to Toulouse Olympique XIII in the third round of the Super 8s Qualifiers in the south of France.
The Vikings fell behind as early as the seventh minute when experienced playmaker Johnathan Ford created the first of two tries for Australian full-back Mark Kheirallah, who added the goal.
Centre Krisnan Inu pulled a try back for the visitors shortly afterwards after being put through a gap by stand-off Joe Mellor and they took the lead on 25 minutes when back rower Harrison Hansen forced his way over at the corner.
Inu added the conversion to make it 10-6 but Toulouse hit back through Kheirallah, who collected Ford’s kick over the defence for his second score, and centre Chris Centrone, who picked up a loose ball to race the full length of the field.
Kheirallah converted both tries to stretch the French club’s lead to 18-10 at the break.
Widnes got back to within two points early in the second half when half-back Tom Gilmore put second rower Weller Hauraki through a gap for their third try, with Inu adding the goal.
But that was as good as it got for Francis Cummins’ men, who lost prop Gil Dudson to injury, and there was no way back after they conceded further tries to Ford, Centrone and Stan Robin.
Hooker Lloyd White pulled a try back for the Vikings eight minutes from the end but Toulouse had the last word when half-back William Barthau went over for their seventh try to the delight of the 2,911 crowd and Kheirallah took his goal tally to seven as he finished with a 22-point haul.
Cummins said: "It’s a strange one because we dominated field position and worked really hard to win the ruck but we didn’t have enough quality down the other end."
Toulouse coach Sylvain Houles said: "I'm extremely proud of the boys. We’ve worked really hard over the last two weeks – we didn’t give them any days off – and they showed a desire to win that game and to push hard to go into Super League."