WHEN York City Knights met Toulouse Olympique in the south of France, the home side just shaded victory after a ding-dong encounter.

Here at a wet and greasy Bootham Crescent they did the same thing, scoring a late try to effectively win the game, and this time capping a 25-18 success with a 79th-minute drop goal.

But it could have been so different. Three times York went ahead, only to three times err on the restart for Toulouse to immediately strike back. The Frenchmen went ahead for the first time with seven minutes to go - with a controversial try too.

The third of those errors was also contentious, referee James Child deeming Joe Porter had knocked on when the sub packman was adamant he had not lost the ball.

Indeed, Child was roundly booed off by the vociferous home fans after several 50-50 calls went the visitors’ way, including slow rucks, probable offsides, that dubious late try and an even later sin-binning. But was he the reason for the defeat?

Fine margins certainly are and, on this occasion, the bounces of the ball went Toulouse’s way.

Nevertheless, for York to twice push the full-time Super League wannabes close shows just how far the Knights have come in recent years under head coach James Ford and chairman Jon Flatman.

Indeed, had Lady Luck smiled on them a bit more, they would have gone level on points with Sylvain Houles’ team in second place in the table. They remain in the play-off shake-up.

Ford made five changes in personnel to the side that saw off Newcastle in the 1895 Cup last week – with a big one being enforced late on.

Junior Vaivai was to continue his left-flank partnership with fellow Hull KR loanee Will Oakes but had to pull out after picking up an injury in training.

Brad Hey was recalled in his stead, while Liam Salter was back at right-centre after resting up, likewise Sam Scott and Graeme Horne in the pack ranks. Harry Aldous also returned, having not been allowed to play against his parent club last week.

Jason Bass was given the nod ahead of Perry Whiteley on the wing.

Those dropping out along with Vaivai were Kevin Brown, Josh Jordan-Roberts, Mike Kelly and Tyler Dupree.

York might have been without Vaivai but Toulouse were missing star playmaker Johnathon Ford and French international threequarter Bastien Ader as well as Aussie Rhys Curran, the former pair having been late withdrawals.

Ace full-back Mark Kheirallah also departed in the 15th minute with a shoulder injury, caused seemingly by a big shot from Scott.

In that sense, this was a missed opportunity for York against a weakened side - although for Toulouse to still win despite being without those star turns underlines their own pedigree.

For one, William Barthau, a French international, was a pretty able deputy for Ford at stand-off and it was his late one-pointer that sealed the victory.

Aided by a couple of penalties, the visitors were on top early on with York’s one-up rugby – a valid tactic in such wet conditions, with constant first-half rain and patches of surface water – not making much yardage against a big side with good line speed.

A good set, however, turned the ball over in the right area and good kick pressure led to Barthau kicking out on the full.

From their first attacking platform, prop Jack Teanby crashed, banged and walloped his way over from Connor Robinson’s little pass. Robinson converted.

However, Teanby spilled the ball on the restart and, from the attacking platform, just as Kheirallah exited the action, Mathieu Jussaume silenced the crowd when darting home. Barthau converted.

Liam Salter nearly found a route to the try-line at the other end, held short on the last tackle, while a lovely Liam Harris grubber forced a second dropout of the afternoon, as the Knights got in the ascendancy.

They scored superbly too – Hey doing a Vaivai by beating a man and, as the rain got heavier, sliding powerfully over the whitewash.

Robinson goaled from wide out.

Again, though, York erred on the restart, this time the otherwise excellent Marcus Stock fumbling in the hit-up, and again Toulouse equalised, prising open a gap for second-row James Bell to cross and Barthau to convert.

The French team’s entertaining ball play was occasionally to the fore as they threw out a few offloads despite the conditions, while a decent kick earned a dropout.

A cheap penalty followed – a fifth of the first half-hour – but the defence held out and it remained 12-12 at the interval.

Toulouse, having been largely error-free throughout a soaking wet first half, made the first mistake of the second with the rain having abated.

But Kriss Brining overplayed as York put a decent attack together and the visitors so nearly scored soon after following some enterprising play – Hey just causing Constantine Mika to knock on as both players slid over the whitewash chasing a kick.

Olympique stayed on top, though, aided by a couple more refereeing calls and a fumble from a scrum by Hey. But some excellent defence kept them at bay and Hey made amends when scrambling onto a loose ball to snuff out the immediate danger.

Then the Main Stand erupted.

A move straight off the training ground – and seen several times before at Bootham Crescent - involving Will Jubb, the superb Horne and the excellent Marsh saw the full-back scamper straight through in centre-field, and he had Liam Harris racing up in support to score.

Bewilderingly, York once again erred on the restart, this time Porter – to his obvious astonishment - being adjudged to have knocked on by Child.

And once again Toulouse struck back, this time winger Paul Marcon finishing a fine move.

With the Main Stand howling deafening derision, Barthau missed the touchline conversion, leaving York still 18-16 up.

Referee Child continued to annoy the home crowd, another penalty giving the visitors another platform.

But the hosts’ tigerish tackling continued to frustrate the Frenchmen, a ball spill being celebrated like a try by the ever-influential Knights skipper Tim Spears.

Then Harris excelled, coming round to cover a kick and jinking 25 metres away from his own goal, with Will Oakes carrying it on from the play-the-ball and the set ending with an attacking kick – all again lifting the crowd.

Toulouse, though, showed what a good side they are with their winner seven minutes from time.

A solid set ended with a kick to the right corner. Oakes and Marcon challenged for it and the ball went inside where Jussaume picked up and had the strength to get over, Barthau’s conversion putting them 22-18 ahead. Was it a knock on? Video clips suggested it was. Was it offside? The officials thought not on both accounts.

York then had to play the last three minutes with 12 men after another Child decision.

A Barthau kick ricocheted kindly straight back to him. The playmaker sprinted forward, dabbed another kick past Marsh and ran into the full-back – Child sin-binning Marsh for a supposed professional foul.

Barthau kicked the two-pointer and sealed victory with a drop goal.