Champions Cup: Antoine Dupont strikes late for Toulouse to break Ulster hearts

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Antoine Dupont’s late converted try helped Toulouse edge Ulster 50-49 on aggregate thanks to a 30-23 victory in their Champions Cup second leg.

Dupont’s 76th minute score proved vital while Thomas Ramos and Romain Ntamack also crossed for Toulouse, with Ramos kicking three conversions and three penalties.

However, the key moment in the Kingspan Stadium fixture came in the 64th minute when replacement Tom O’Toole was shown red for a dangerous hit on Anthony Jelonch.

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Ulster had led several times after bringing a 26-20 lead back from the first leg in France. Ethan McIlroy scored two tries for them, with John Cooney kicking both conversions and three penalties in a game they led 20-17 at half-time.

First blood was drawn by the visitors, with a second-minute penalty being kicked by Ramos after Jelonch won a breakdown. From the kick-off, Robert Baloucoune was yellow-carded for hitting Jelonch in the air.

Three minutes later Dimitri Delibes was sent to the bin by referee Matthew Carley for lifting and dumping McIlroy, and shortly afterwards Ramos took a quick lineout throw near his corner flag and threw the ball to Dupont who tried to run out.

Dupont was nailed by Michael Lowry and Ulster gobbled up the loose ball, with James Hume providing the assist for McIlroy to score. Cooney converted and Ulster were up 7-3.

Ramos cut Ulster’s lead to just one point after 13 minutes but when Toulouse strayed offside, Cooney did the needful to put Ulster four in front.

However, after 21 minutes, Ntamack combined with Dupont to cut Ulster open and put Ramos in under the posts, the full-back also converting. Toulouse now led 13-10 and had cut Ulster’s aggregate lead to just three points.

Five minutes later, Ntamack ran in from distance after intercepting a Cooney pass, Ramos again converting to put the visitors 20-10 in front.

The half ended with Ulster striking back when, with a penalty advantage, Billy Burns cross-kicked and McIlroy did really well to gather and score. Cooney added a terrific conversion to cut Toulouse’s lead to three points on the night, with Ulster now 43-40 ahead on aggregate.

12 minutes into the second half, Cooney landed his second penalty to tie the scores but nudge Ulster back into a six-point aggregate lead.

Lowry then escaped any card after clattering Ramos in the air prior to the Toulouse full-back landing a 63rd-minute penalty to nudge the French visitors in front on the scoreboard and cut the overall margin over the two legs to just three.

Another blow to Ulster rapidly followed when replacement O’Toole was sent off for hitting Jelonch four minutes after the hour, but the home side still managed to get the next scoring opportunity from a lineout penalty. Cooney slotted the three points to tie the scores on the night.

But with five minutes remaining, Toulouse ran a touch-finder back with Ntamack going left and Dupont sliced through at the posts, with Ramos again converting to put the visitors back in front at 30-23 and one point in front over the two legs.

READ MORE: Champions Cup: Leicester Tigers ease past Clermont to set up quarter-final date with Leinster

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