We’d predicted, “A cautious Toulouse to be undone by an Ulster team playing a high risk game.” in our preview and that’s pretty much how this one turned out. 😀 However, there was no expectation that the victory would be so comprehensive.
Just about everything Ulster tried came off, as Paddy Jackson and Ruan Pienaar ran the show, but the plaudits for this magnificent win must go to the forwards who bested their opponents in all aspects of the game. Rory Best, Chris Henry, Alan O’Connor and Kyle McCall all stood out but it seems somewhat churlish to pick out individuals as the whole team raised their game.
It’s a strange season for the French sides. A disappointing and “allegedly” acrimonious World Cup had already sparked some introspection and the tragic events in Paris, on the opening round of this competition, somewhat changed the focus onto more important matters. Toulouse looked understandably disinterested when they went down 32 – 7 to Saracens on that tragic weekend and similarly they didn’t look inclined to did too deep when Ulster turned the screw in this one.
As it was, both teams started brightly, opting to run the ball from the get go. Toulouse seemed to have the best of the opening ten minutes but Ulster worked their way into the game through their battling forwards and they looked sharper with the ball in hand.
A confident decision by Ulster, at the end of the first quarter, to take a line out rather than a kick at goal led to the opening score with Nick Williams crashing over from five yards out and with Jackson converting Ulster led 7 – 0.
Jackson added a penalty on the half hour mark after a hand in the ruck by Bezy right on the line, with Bezy receiving a yellow card for his troubles. Unfortunately for Ulster, Williams also got a ten minute rest for a robust clear out minutes later but the half ended with a bang as Andrew Trimble crossed for a fine individual score by gathering his own chip ahead. A double bonus for the home side as Camara joined Williams on the bench following a trip on Pienaar earlier in the move. Jackson converted and Ulster went into the break with a 17 – 0 lead.
There was talk of a second half backlash as we queued for half time refreshments but the crowd barely had time to get back to their places before Ulster secured the win, Luke Marshall collecting an exquisite chip to the corner by Pienaar. The young centre showed great composure to run the ball under the posts to give Jackson the easiest of conversions and with the score reading 24 – 0 there looked no way back for the visitors.
And so it proved. Stuart McCloskey ran through a non existent defence on the 53rd minute to secure the bonus point with another converted try which prompted a call to home for the big names.
Best, Jackson, Pienaar, McCall and Herbst all benched in the next ten minutes but the replacements all wanted to get in on the act and they duly rumbled over for the fifth try on the 70th minute. Henry came up with the ball at the bottom of the maul and with Ian Humphreys slicing over the conversion like a golf pro the score climbed to a record 38 – 0.
The focus of the game switched to whether Ulster could keep their opponents to nil and, in fairness, the French had a few chances. However, Ulster kept their line intact reasonably comfortably to nil their opponents for their first time in Europe. What a night!
Final Score: Ulster 38 Toulouse 0.
Ulster: Louis Ludik, Andrew Trimble, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar, Kyle McCall, Rory Best, Wiehahn Herbst, Alan O’Connor, Franco van der Merwe, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Nick Williams. Replacements: Rob Herring, Andrew Warwick, Ricky Lutton, Clive Ross, Roger Wilson, Paul Marshall, Ian Humphreys, Rory Scholes.
Images courtesy of Ian Humes Photography
The Four Match Challenge!
We’d pointed out in our review of the dreadful Leinster match that four wins on the bounce would turn Ulster’s season round and so far Ulster have made it two from two! However the next game is always the toughest and there aren’t many bigger challenges in European Rugby than Toulouse at Stade Ernest Wallon next Sunday. A win there and then we can get excited! #SUFTUM