A place in Super League awaited the winners of the Million Pound Game as Toulouse Olympique XIII looked to become the second French side in the elite competition while Featherstone Rovers looked to return to the top flight for the first time since the advent of Super League in 1996.
Toulouse have gone the entire season without losing a game and have scored almost six points for every one conceded while Featherstone won all but one game in the regular season with an even more impressive scoring record than the French side averaging just under forty-five points scored per game.
With home advantage, Toulouse were the big favourites for the game, and promotion, with Featherstone having been given a twelve-point start on the handicap coupon.
The French side took an early lead after just five minutes when Mathieu Jussaume forced his way over the line and managed to ground despite a terrific defensive effort from Kris Welham. Mark Kheirallah added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
A Kheirallah penalty on twelve extended the lead and after another on sixteen it was 10-0 as Toulouse took the game by the scruff of its neck.
A delightful chip over the top from Gigot was collected and grounded by Latrell Schaumkel deep inside the Featherstone goal area. Referee Hicks consulted the video referee who awarded the try. Kheirallah was unable to add the conversion on this occasion but Featherstone couldn’t get into the game.
On twenty-two minutes Kheirallah kicked his fourth goal to punish further Featherstone indiscipline.
It was a commanding first half from the home side as they went quietly about amassing the points and shutting out their opposition. Featherstone couldn’t get any kind of foothold in the game due to a great defence and a lack of discipline. Rovers would need a big improvement in the second half if they were to stop Toulouse making it into Super League.
Featherstone were back in the game on fifty-two when a bandaged Brett Ferres took a Dane Chisolm pass ten out from the line to weave through the defence to score. Craig Hall added the conversion for 6-16.
A brilliant 40-20 from Chisolm on fifty-seven gave his side position and possession but Rovers counldn’t take advantage. Ferres had a second try ruled out by the referee on the hour mark as Rovers pushed at the Toulouse line.
Jussaume scored his second try of the night, stumbling under a tackle before regaining his feet and diving over the line in a move involving Remi Casty and Eloi Pelissier. Kheirallah added the touchline conversion for 22-6.
A charging John Davies grabbed Featherstones second try of the night as he crashed over the line from three metres. Hall added the conversion to reduce the arrears back to ten points.
A Kheirallah penalty, given for offside, gave Toulouse another two points for a twelve-point lead but the victory was sealed on seventy-three when Harrison Hansen took the ball five out and evaded his tackler to dive in for the fourth Toulouse try of the evening. Kheirallah’s seventh goal of the night made it 30-12 with five minutes remaining.
Lloyd White was sin-binned on seventy-eight for kicking out but it took little gloss off the Toulouse Olympique win but Johnathan Ford scored on the last play og the game with a solo try after throwing the dummy and going in. Casty took the conversion but the ball went under the crossbar in his last action as a professional rugby player.
It’s Toulouse Olympique XIII who will be playing their rugby league in the Super League next season, and Featherstone will be back in the Championship for 2022. Toulouse have been the strongest side all season, despite playing far few games than their opponents due to COVID restrictions, but few can doubt that the best side in the division won promotion and will look to test their capability against the best that Super League has to offer next season.
For the first time ever there will be two sides in the top flight next year.
Toulouse Olympique XIII: Kheirallah (7G), Hitchcox, Vaivai, Jussaume (2T), Schaumkel (T), Ford (T), Gigot, Casty, White (SB on 78), Hansen (T), Bretherton, Peyroux, Marion. Subs: Pelissier, Garbutt, Sangare, Paulo.
Featherstone Rovers: Walker, Hall (2G), Welham, Hardcastle, Gale, Chisolm, Brown, Kopczak, Jones, Lockwood, Halton, Ferres (T), Field. Subs: Davies (T), Bussey, Parata, Ferguson.
Referee: Rob Hicks.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 8-0, 10-0, 14-0, 16-0 : HT : 16-4, 16-6, 20-6, 22-6, 22-10, 22-12, 24-12, 28-12, 30-12, (SB), 34-12: FT.