Ulster crashed out of the Heineken Champions Cup to Toulouse, a week after losing to Leinster in the PRO14 final. South Africa’s World Cup wining wing wizard Cheslin Kolbe scored two great tries in a 36-8 victory in Sunday’s quarter-final clash at Stade Ernest-Wallon.
Kolbe showed his class at the beginning and end of the first half as he twice stepped inside Irish wing Jacob Stockdale to round off sweeping moves.
His first try came after two-and-a-half minutes as the four-time champions exploded into action in front of a 5,000-strong home crowd.
Wave after wave of attacks eventually put Kolbe one on one with Stockdale and the Springbok came off his dynamic right foot to step inside his man and score the first of Toulouse’s five tries.
That score came while Ulster centre James Hulme was receiving attention after being bowled over by a charging run by former Connacht centre Pita Ahki.
Toulouse dominated territory and possession in the opening quarter, but could not turn their pressure into points.
It certainly helped the Ulster cause that home full-back Thomas Ramos missed with the conversion and then two more penalties after making it 8-0 with a 14th minute penalty.
Ulster showed four changes from the team that failed in Dublin the previous weekend but welcomed back scrum-half John Cooney into the starting line-up.
Head coach Dan McFarland went with a 6-2 split of forwards to backs on the bench and – after losing outside half Billy Burns to a calf strain in the first half, and centre Stuart McCloskey after the turnaround – they ended up with a full-back at number 10 and a scrum-half on the wing.
But despite being hit with that blistering start, Ulster dug deep and a penalty from Cooney in the 26th minute put them right back in the contest. They also managed a number of line-breaks but could not manufacture the final pass to make them pay.
Kolbe showed his fancy footwork once again as he outwitted Stockdale for a second time and Ramos’ conversion made it 15-3 at the break. Three more tries flowed in the second half as the lead grew to 33 points.
Two of the tries were made by charging runs from centre Sofiane Giteau, paving the way for the outstanding French scrum-half Antonie Dupont and Ramos to score. Ahki got the other with a neat kick and chase up the left touchline.
Cooney grabbed a consolation try nine minutes from time for the visitors.
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