PREVIEW: Toulouse and Rochdale clash for automatic promotion

Toulouse Olympique continued their unbeaten run last weekend with a 44-22 victory over Barrow Raiders – and they know one more victory this weekend, against Rochdale Hornets, will secure promotion to the Championship.

Coach Sylvain Houles was pleased with his side’s performance against the Raiders and said: “It was a very important win for us against Barrow. We wanted to finish the Super 8s unbeaten and we raced out of the blocks very fast. I have to give fair credit to Barrow as they stuck in and managed to score to put them back in the game. Our defence was still in place and that took us through to secure the win.”

Ahead of the Promotion Final against Rochdale, Houles scooped the prestigious League 1 Coach of the Year award at the Kingstone Press Championship and League 1 awards evening on Monday night and is hoping to continue the celebrations with victory this weekend.

He said: “We’re fully focused on this week’s game. Rochdale have been strong all season and it’s a huge game for the club and the team. We’ll just stick to our system to make sure we get the result. The boys are pumped and keen and looking forward to the challenge. It will make for an unforgettable and unbelievable season for us.”

Rochdale moved into second place and booked their place in the League 1 Promotion Final with a 34-18 win over Hunslet Hawks. Coach Alan Kilshaw said: “Generally it was a good performance considering we probably had one eye on the promotion final game. It was quite an aggressive game but we had enough in us to get the win. It’s a huge achievement for us to finish in second place.”

Rochdale are the only team to have taken points off Toulouse this season and Kilshaw continued: “Everyone has written us off going in to the game but internally we’re confident. We’re in good form, we’ve got players back and we’re confident.

“It’s a final and anything can happen on the day. You never need much motivation for a final but it’s added to it that people don’t believe we can do it.

“Within our group we have a lot of players that have played in finals and that experience will hopefully be able to help us.

Ben Moores will return to the squad after being rested for the game against Hunslet last weekend.

Jordan Case will miss the game against Toulouse after receiving a one-match ban for punching in the Hornets game against Hunslet Hawks.