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It's the Cheslin Kolbe show as Toulouse end Ulster's European adventure

By PA
Cheslin Kolbe /Getty Images

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Shaylen 2 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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Jon 8 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
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