Toulouse too strong as Stags lose out in season opener

Hemel Stags club crest
Hemel Stags club crest
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Hemel Stags endured a tough afternoon as they suffered a 74-0 thrashing by Toulouse Olympique in their opening fixture of the 2016 League 1 campaign.

The Stags always knew that this game was going to be a tough opener to their season, and so it proved as it was one-way traffic to the Hemel line.

Not many teams are going to cause too much trouble to Toulouse, who are their reigning Elite League Champions and widely viewed as the second best team in the whole of France.

It was also a trip down memory lane for Stags coach Troy Perkins who played for the French club about 15 years ago.

Hemel’s problems began the night before the game when full-back Scott Ellis pulled a hamstring during a warm-up session and Perkins was forced to re-structure his team.

The Stags completed the first set from the kick-off but then a penalty to Toulouse brought the first try with only two minutes on the clock, with another following four minutes later.

Fortunately for Hemel, a third try was ruled out for a technical offence, but Toulouse were quickly back on the attack and took a 34-0 lead in at half-time.

The hosts went on to boss the second half, with a 50m break by the home full-back five minutes in being the first of seven tries.

On the hour mark, French captain Sebastien Planas and Stags skipper BJ Swindells were given 10 minutes in the sin-bin, and Hemel also lost the services of Oli Toms who was taken off to hospital with a hand injury.

The final whistle brought something of a relief to Hemel, but they will not face many teams of Toulouse’s quality for the rest of the season.

The Stags have a week off now before playing London Skolars in a local derby on Good Friday, 2.30pm kick-off at Pennine Way.

Stags: Paul Stewart-Beckett; Ben Waud; Oli Toms; BJ Swindells; Reece Rance; Chad Isles; Ben Stead; Michael Stewart; James Delaney; Matt Ross; Kyal Greene; Luke Patterson; Rhys Bowditch. Subs: Victor Coker; Mitch Stephenson; Dave O’Connor; Liam O’Callaghan.