Dupont scores late to break Ulster hearts
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Stade Toulousain set up a Champions Cup quarterfinal at Munster as a late Antoine Dupont try saw them beat Ulster by a solitary point on aggregate following a 30-23 win at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday.
Ulster came into Round of 16 second leg in front and led for much of the game against the reigning champions thanks to Ethan McIlroy’s try double, with John Cooney’s 13 points putting them within sight of the last eight.
But tries from Thomas Ramos and Romain Ntamack kept Toulouse in touch before Tom O’Toole was sent off for Ulster, with Dupont striking on 75 minutes and Ramos adding the conversion to take his match tally to 20 points and send his side into the next round.
Toulouse hit the front early on as fullback Ramos nudged a penalty, and Ulster would suffer a blow from the restart as wing Rob Baloucoune was yellow-carded for taking a player out in the air.
But it would be 14 versus 14 moments later as Toulouse wing Dimitri Delibes was too sent to the sin bin for an illegal tip tackle.
And Ulster then scored the game’s first try through wing McIlroy, centre James Hume with some lovely footwork to tee up his teammate out wide, scrumhalf Cooney’s conversion extending their aggregate lead to 10 points.
Ramos reduced that advantage with a second penalty on 13 minutes, but Cooney responded with a three-pointer of his own five minutes later.
Flyhalf Ntamack was the catalyst for Toulouse’s first try on 21 minutes, streaking clear from halfway and exploiting a three-on-one to send Ramos over.
Ntamack then scored the visitors’ second try himself, intercepting and producing the pace to get over from just inside the Ulster half on 26 minutes.
But McIlroy brilliantly claimed a cross-field kick before dotting down for his second score in the closing minutes of the first half, sending his side into the break ahead on aggregate.
The two sides slugged away in the early stages of the second half, Ulster registering the first points as Cooney nudged his second penalty of the evening from in front of the posts.
Toulouse replied with another Ramos three-pointer on 64 minutes, and moments later Ulster were left monumental task to hold onto their lead as replacement Tom O’Toole was sent off for a high tackle.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Ulster grabbed the next points through another Cooney effort from the tee on 68 minutes as the home crowd implored their side to see out the remaining minutes.
Toulouse stuttered in attack for much of the game but produced the cutting edge when it mattered as scrumhalf Dupont sliced through and dotted down next to the posts, Ramos’ conversion edging the visitors ahead on aggregate.
There would be no late recovery for Ulster, and Toulouse marched into the quarterfinals after a gripping game in Belfast.
Tries: McIlroy 2
Cons: Cooney 2
Pens: Cooney 3
Tries: Ramos, Ntamack, Dupont
Cons: Ramos 3
Pens: Ramos 3
Red card: Tom O’Toole (Ulster, 64 – foul play, high tackle)
Yellow cards: Rob Baloucoune (Ulster, 2, – dangerous play, tackling a player in the air); Dimitri Delibes (Toulouse, 5 – dangerous play, tip tackle)
Ulster: 15 Mike Lowry, 14 Rob Baloucoune, 13 James Hume, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Ethan McIlroy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Marcus Rea, 5 Iain Henderson (captain), 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Andrew Warwick.
Replacements: 16 Brad Roberts, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Nathan Doak, 22 Luke Marshall, 23 Rob Lyttle.
Toulouse: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Dimitri Delibes, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Matthis Lebel, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont (captain), 8 Selevasio Tolofua, 7 Anthony Jelonch, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Richie Arnold, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 1 Rodrigue Neti.
Replacements: 16 Guillaume Cramont, 17 David Ainu’u, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Emmanuel Meafou, 20 Thibaud Flament, 21 Antoine Miquel, 22 Baptiste Germain, 23 Lucas Tauzin.
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Andrew Jackson (England), Phil Watters (England)
TMO: Ian Tempest (England)