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Watch: 'Reckless, exactly what we don't like to see in the game'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Valentine Chapuis/AFP via Getty Images)

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Defending European champions Toulouse were beaten 26-20 at home on Saturday by Ulster, the Heineken Champions Cup holders losing their way in the round of 16 first leg following the eleventh-minute red card for their Argentinian winger, Juan Cruz Mallia.

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The French side had started the match with an early flourish, moving seven points clear with a converted try from Emmanuel Meafou. But their momentum was soon checked by the x-rated manner in which Mallia clattered into Ben Moxham, the airborne Ulster winger, who landed awkwardly after the dangerous collision.

It was an incident that left ex-Ireland and Ulster winger Tommy Bowe fuming when he reviewed the red card at half-time during the live TV coverage of the match on BT Sport.  

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“Exactly what the Toulouse coaching staff wouldn’t have wanted having got off to that good start, seven-nil up and this is ten minutes into the game. It’s a really reckless challenge, it’s exactly what we don’t like to see in the game,” he said. 

“If somebody goes up into the air to catch a high ball they have to be escorted and let back down onto the ground again and really horrible to see Moxham landing on his head there. He went off for a HIA and didn’t come back on again.”

The clock was stopped at 10:25 when referee Wayne Barnes reviewed the Mallia footage with the TMO, a consultation that led to the red card for the Toulouse winger. “He has gone through the player, lands on his neck/head. He has gone through, really reckless, so he is not in a position to contest the ball… Let’s just deal with the facts: Never in a position to contest the ball, has gone straight through the player, really reckless, landed on his neck/shoulder, red card,” said Barnes during his review.

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The numerical imbalance that resulted eventually told against Toulouse as they were picked off by a try hat-trick from Ulster’s Robert Baloucoune before a late Romain Ntamack try left the margin at six points heading into next Saturday night’s second leg in Belfast.

“It wasn’t just his try-scoring, his all-round game was excellent,” enthused Brian O’Driscoll, Bowe’s fellow BT Sport pundit about the display from Baloucoune. “Obviously, he is there to finish scores, finish off really effective team tries and he has got this blistering pace and great footwork where he doesn’t lose any of his acceleration when he is running on those arcs.

“He runs really great support lines, makes himself available the whole time and that is why he has run in a hat-trick today. And the third one, he is onside, I have no problem. The crowd didn’t like that one but for me, that is a well-deserved hat-trick.”

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