By NEIL DAVIDSON
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Saturday, March 16, 2019
TORONTO -- The Toronto Wolfpack may top the Betfred Championship standings, but the transatlantic rugby-league team is still smarting from a 46-16 beat down in Toulouse last week.
The Wolfpack (5-1-0) looks to get back on track Sunday when it meets the 11th-place Batley Bulldogs (1-5-0) at KCOM Craven Park in Hull, England.
Assistant coach Simon Finnigan says not much had to be said in the wake of the ugly loss which saw Toulouse, trailing by 10 at the break, reel off 40 unanswered points in the second half.
"The message was pretty easy," the former Irish international said. "I mean, they're professional players, they know when they've had a game where they've not lived up to their standards - or reach the standards that they set themselves as a group." A video review of the game was hard watching.
"You don't always have to say too much because a picture can tell a 1,000 words. They know where they went wrong.
We've reinforced it," Finnigan said. "They're ready to go again."
It marked the first defeat after five wins for new Wolfpack coach Brian McDermott, and just the ninth ever in competitive play for Toronto (54-9-2) over three seasons.
"We came up against a very good Toulouse side. We were nowhere near what we needed to be," Finnigan said. "And when you're nowhere near what you need to be, you get burned."
Toulouse has now won four straight after losing its first two games of the season. There were worrying signs the week before the Toulouse game when the Wolfpack needed three late tries to beat Dewsbury Rams 22-17.
Toronto's previous loss was even more painful - a 4-2 setback last October at the hands of the visiting London Broncos in what's known as the Million Pound Game, the promotion showdown that ended the Wolfpack's bid to climb into the Super League.
Batley has lost its past two outings, including a 44-16 defeat at the hands of the second-place Sheffield Eagles.
But Finnigan says don't underestimate the Bulldogs.
"They're a physical team. ... Anyone that's played Batley before [knows], you don't have an easy game against them."
Toronto won the two previous meetings between the two in 2018, 64-18 at home and 26-18 at Batley.