Match Report: Ulster Rugby 38-0 Stade Toulousain

Andrew Trimble

Andrew Trimble scored a brilliant solo try

Against all the odds an injury-ravaged Ulster pulled out one of the performances of the season so far as they romped to a 38-0 bonus point win over French giants Toulouse at the Kingspan Stadium in the Champions’ Cup.

Nick Williams and Andrew Trimble scored tries for Les Kiss’ men in the first half to put them in a brilliant position while Toulouse centre Toby Flood spurned two kickable penalties to get the visitors on the board.

After the break Ulster were on top form with Luke Marshall and Stuart McCloskey crossing early on to wrap up the bonus point with Chris Henry’s late score off the back of a driving maul the icing on the cake.

It is a huge win for the home side who keep their quarter-final qualification hopes alive and will be a massive boost ahead of next week’s return leg at the Stade Ernest Wallon.

It was Ulster’s depleted side who were making early inroads, however Toulouse’s back row was in exemplary form with captain Thierry Dusautoir winning two key turnovers inside the first ten minutes.

Instead it was Ulster’s back row who let them down – Irish international Chris Henry penalised for going off his feet at a ruck, but Flood could not capitalise on his error as his kick sailed wide.

Toulouse’s troubles were compounded even further as number eight Louis Picamoles was taken off injured after Flood’s kick, with the influential Frenchman’s arm in a makeshift sling.

And their night was about to get worse as Ulster turned down a kick at goal to go for the corner and from the resulting line-out a brilliant move from the hosts saw Robbie Diack set number eight Nick Williams over for the opening try midway through the half.

Les Kiss’ men were looking the more threatening, and not long after they found themselves a man up after Toulouse scrum-half Sebastien Bezy was guilty of deliberately knocking the ball on with Ulster in a good position.

Jackson sent over the resulting penalty, something he was succeeding at but opposite number Flood wasn’t as the Englishman pulled another simple effort wide after half an hour.

The numbers were to be evened up just before half time though as a reckless clear out from try scorer Williams on winger Vincent Clerc was referred to the TMO. Clerc was seeing stars and Williams saw yellow.

Despite that, it would be Ulster who would take the lead into the break, and it was extended to 17 points as a brilliant bit of Andrew Trimble magic saw the Irishmen notch their second try of the game.

Despite Yacouba Camara tripping Ruan Pienaar at the back of a maul, which he saw yellow for too, Pienaar was able to offload to Trimble who broke away, chipped through and gathered to score on the stroke of half time.

Straight after the break it was Ulster doing all the pressing once more and Craig Gilroy was inches away from adding their third try only two minutes in, but the winger was unable to hold onto the ball under Clerc’s covering tackle.

But they wouldn’t have to wait long for the third try as just two minutes later Toulouse were found short on the wing and Pienaar’s pinpoint crossfield kick found Luke Marshall waiting, with the centre able to catch and saunter over for the try.

If Toulouse weren’t shell-shocked after the first half then they definitely were after Marshall’s try, and it was no surprise that offered very little resistance when Stuart McCloskey picked a beautiful line through the defence and sprinted over for another try.

Jackson added the extras as he continued his flawless night with the boot and Ulster had their bonus point wrapped up after just 52 minutes.

Even with the scoreline as it was, Ulster were determined not to let their opponents in and when substitute scrum-half Jean-Marc Doussain split away from a ruck he seemed certain to score under the posts only for a remarkable saving tackle by Trimble.

Still the visitors came through a strong driving maul, but every time the Ulstermen repelled them and eventually they forced the knock on with Luke Marshall able to clear the danger.

Ironically, the only try to come off a rolling maul came from Ulster – the hosts sticking a penalty right down into the corner with ten minutes to go and from there the power of the pack came to the fore with Chris Henry the one to touch down.

Toulouse rallied late to launch an assault on the Ulster line as they looked to get something to take back to France next weekend, however they could not find a way past the Ulster defence who will be buoyant heading into next weekend.

 

The scorers

For Ulster

Tries: Williams, Trimble, L Marshall, McCloskey, Henry

Cons: Jackson (4), Humphreys

Pen: Jackson

 

ULSTER RUGBY

(15-9) Louis Ludik, Andrew Trimble (Rory Scholes 78), Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson (Ian Humphreys 63), Ruan Pienaar (Paul Marshall 63); (1-8) Kyle McCall (Andy Warwick 58), Rory Best (Rob Herring 56), Wiehahn Herbst (Ricky Lutton 63), Alan O’Connor, Franco van der Merwe (Clive Ross 71), Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Nick Williams (Roger Wilson 52).

Sin bin: Nick Williams (35’)

STADE TOULOUSAIN

(15-9) Clement Poitrenaud, Vincent Clerc, Gael Fickou (Alexis Palisson 63), Toby Flood, Arthur Bonneval, Luke McAlister, Sebastien Bezy (Jean-Marc Doussain 53); (1-8) Vasil Kakovin (Cyril Baille 49), Corey Flynn (Julien Marchand 49), Census Johnston (Dorian Aldegheri 49), Yoann Maestri (Edwin Maka 66), Joe Tekori, Yacouba Camara, Thierry Dusautoir, Louis Picamoles (Gillian Galan 16 (Gregory Lamboley 40)).

Sin bin: Sebastien Bezy (28’), Yacouba Camara (39’)

 

Man of the Match: Ruan Pienaar (Ulster)

Referee: Wayne Barnes (Eng)