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Dublin: 3 °C Saturday 14 December, 2019


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Good morning rugby fans and welcome to the first of today’s Champions Cup liveblogs as Ulster look to follow-up last week’s thumping win over Toulouse with another victory over the French giants.

Les Kiss’ side tore Toulouse to shreds at Ravenhill last Friday as they kick-started their campaign with five points. It leaves them in second behind Saracens in Pool 1 and if they can come away with the points today, they’ll head into the New Year in a healthy position.

Kick-off at the Stade Ernest Wallon is at 1pm.

Here’s a look at today’s teams, as named during the week.

The hosts have made a raft of changes from the side who suffered that humbling defeat in Belfast with internationals Clement Poitrenaud and Louis Picamoles dropping out.

Toulouse: Alexis Palisson; Kunatani Kunabuli, Gael Fickou, Florian Fritz, Timoci Matanavou; Jean-Marc Doussain, Sébastien Bézy; Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Census Johnston, Gregory Lamboley, Yoann Maestri, Yacouba Camara, Thierry Dusautoir, Imanol Harinordoquy

Les Kiss, meanwhile, has made two changes for the trip to France with Chris Henry and Nick Williams dropping out from the 38-0 win.

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, Sean Reidy, Roger Wilson.


Nearly set for kick-off in France. Which way do you see this one going?

Here come the two teams, emerging side-by-side from the dressing rooms. A healthy crowd at the Stade Ernest Wallon for this lunch-time kick-off. Paddy Jackson to get us underway.

Flag 1Mins

Kick-off! Ulster get us started, playing with the benefit of this wind in this first-half.


Ulster have started brightly, looking to spread the ball wide and exploit the space available on either wing. And they win a penalty at the breakdown with Jackson calling for the tee.


Penalty! Toulouse 0-3 Ulster (Jackson)

Jackson strikes it cleanly and he dissects the posts with his first effort. Perfect start for the visitors.


Gregory Lamboley was penalised by referee JP Doyle for an infrignement at the breakdown, allowing Jackson to open the scoring.


Ulster on the front foot again but the hosts force the turnover and look to flow forward. Les Kiss’ side stand firm and win the penalty inside their own half.

Such is the strength of the wind, Ruan Penaar is lining this one up, from all of 58 metres out.


But he snatches at it and his effort starts left and stays left.


Fierce battle at the breakdown already developing as Robbie Diack is penalised for holding on. Toulouse bring play inside the Ulster half.


Ulster back inside Toulouse territory after another turnover as they look to extend their early advantage.


Ulster were patient in attack, recycling the ball through the phases, before they injected some pace as Jackson’s long pass created the opening but Gilroy eventually ran out of space and was bundled into touch.


Ulster making it difficult for the hosts to clear their lines but Rory Best is then penalised to relieve the pressure. Gilroy, meanwhile, is being forced off with Rory Scholes his replacement.

The Ireland international received treatment after that last passage of play and hasn’t returned.


Matanavou breaks free down the left and suddenly the home fans are on their feet. For the first time, Toulouse find space but the move breaks down with a knock-on inside the Ulster 22.


Stop-start opening period to this game with penalties being conceded by both sides. The latest stoppage comes after Maestri knocked it on.


Frustration for the hosts as another unforced error foils their charge. Nothing to shout about in this opening 18 minutes but Ulster will be pleased with their start.


From a line-out, Toulouse drive towards the line with another rolling maul. They have the momentum but Diack does brilliantly to get his hands on the ball and eventually win the scrum for his side.


Ulster’s turn to ask questions and after banging on the door, Paddy Jackson pings a perfectly-measured kick in-behind to pen Toulouse back deep inside their own 22.


In defence, Ulster have been extremely solid and are standing firm in the face of everything Toulouse have thrown at them in this first period.


Scrum to Ulster just inside the Toulouse half and JP Doyle awards the penalty to the province. The home fans aren’t happy as the referee explains it was Baille who collapsed the set-piece.


But Jackson’s penalty comes back off the post and another let off for Toulouse – although justice was probably served.


Another good platform for Ulster as Best finds O’Connor in the line-out. They keep it in the forwards and then spread it wide but Ludik is crunched by Matanavou. Sucks the momentum out of the move but Ulster retain possession.

Flag 32Mins

Try! Toulouse 0-10 Ulster (Pienaar)

Brilliant from Ulster! They remained patient and kept plugging away before eventually finding a gap. Pienaar orchestrates the move from behind the scrum but then sees the gap under the posts and dives over. Jackson adds the extras.


Toulouse respond well and hammer away at the Ulster line. Jackson deliberately knocks on as the French side were looking to cross the line. Cynical infringement from the out-half and he’ll be sent to the sinbin.

The referee goes upstairs to have a look at the resulting melee between both sets of players. No other action being taken by JP Doyle. Penalty to Toulouse in-front of the posts.


Penalty! Toulouse 3-10 Ulster (Bézy)

Sébastien Bézy makes no mistake and Ulster face the next 10 minutes with 14 men.


Ulster are looking somewhat stretched in the last few minutes and Toulouse have a spring in their step. They’ll want to see this out now until half-time.


Last push from Toulouse as the clock turns red.

Flag 40Mins

But Ulster break forward through Trimble. He makes good yards down the right and feeds Pienaar inside. Diack spreads it wide and Ulster have numbers as Scholes runs over in the corner.

But it’s not going to count as JP Doyle pulls them up for a forward pass in the build-up. What an end to the first-half.


Penalty! Toulouse 6-10 Ulster (Bézy)

And the hosts reduce the deficit immediately as Bézy slots over his second penalty of the day.


Nick Williams is on for Reidy and Ulster force the turnover after a brilliant scrum – and they’re back to their full complement with Paddy Jackson back on.

Flag 46Mins

Try! Toulouse 6-15 Ulster (Trimble)

Superb score from Trimble. Ulster spring forward with pace and purpose and after spreading it wide, the space opens up for the winger and he finishes brilliantly in the corner.


Stuart McCloskey ripped through Toulouse’s defence in the build-up to that try. Daylight between the sides now.

Flag 53Mins

Try! Toulouse 13-15 Ulster (Fickou)

Toulouse respond instantly with a well-worked try of their own and the difference is just two points. After knocking on the Ulster door, the hosts eventually find the key as they use their numbers out wide. Fickou has acres of space to touch down on the far side.


We have a two-point game with a little under half an hour to go. This game has certainly burst into life.


Penalty! Toulouse 16-15 Ulster (Bézy)

And the hosts lead for the first time as Bézy nails another kick. Mindless from Warwick to give away the penalty as he comes in from the side.


This is end-to-end now. The complexion of the game has changed but Ulster are showing admirable resolve to keep chipping away. Brilliant move involving Pienaar, Jackson and Scholes and Ulster win the penalty.


Penalty! Toulouse 16-18 Ulster (Jackson)

And Jackson puts the wind and jeering crowd out of his head to slot his effort between the posts.


And now here come Toulouse as the partisan crowd roar them on but Williams turns it over. Ulster scrapping for everything at the breakdown and they have the penalty advantage.


And with the wind as strong as it is, Pienaar takes it quickly. Ulster launch a maul but Fritz holds it up and wins possession for his side. After a physical battle in the first-half, we’ve seen a free-flowing game since the interval.


Pienaar is incensed. His pass sets McCloskey away and that would surely be the match but the referee pulls it back for a forward pass.


Ulster looking solid. The home fans are growing frustrated as the visitors win another penalty and Jackson clears his lines.


Ulster going for the knock-out blow but they lose possession and Toulouse are looking to run from their own 22.

Flag 77Mins

Try! Toulouse 16-25 Ulster (Marshall)

Brilliant turnover from Jackson and Toulouse are stretched and Marshall runs in under the posts.


Pienaar is named man-of-the-match as Toulouse win a penalty and kick for the corner.

Flag 79Mins

Try! Toulouse 23-25 Ulster (Picamoles)

Is it over yet? Picamoles rumbles over and we’re in for a grandstand finish.


Thanks for joining us this afternoon. We’ll have live coverage of Munster’s trip to Leicester a little later.

About the author:

Ryan Bailey