"You feel sick for Tom O'Toole" - Ulster left ruing red card in heartbreaking Toulouse loss
ULSTER 23-30 TOULOUSE (49-50 on aggregate)
Ulster were reduced to 14 men in the closing stages of another gripping contest against Toulouse. Tighthead prop Tom O'Toole will take some time to get over this.
Back in 2014, Ulster were top seeds in the Champions Cup as they took on Saracens in the quarter finals. Jared Payne was red-carded, early on, and Sarries won the day.
Ulster had not even received a card of any colour in the 2021/22, heading into this tie, but they got two today. The first was a yellow for Robert Baloucoune.
The red card for Tom O'Toole, with Ulster leading by three points on aggregate at the time, proved crucial. John Cooney did stretch the Ulster lead to six points, on aggregate, but a late, converted Antoine Dupont try settled it for the French side.
In fairness, O'Toole could have no hard issues with his 64th minute red card. He would have seen Anthony Jelonch coming and could have got lower in his tackle. The replays did not look kind to Rob Herring, but the Ulster hooker received no reprimand from referee Matthew Carley.
Yeah, you can't do that...
Tom O'Toole saw red for Ulster in undoubtedly the turning point of the game. pic.twitter.com/9xs7yN04XU
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 16, 2022
— Gauthier Baudin (@GauthierBaudin) April 16, 2022
Antoine Dupont wins it for Toulouse
The match had started positively for Ulster, with Iain Henderson and James Hume stepping up for big plays, John Cooney kicking well and Ethan McIlroy scoring an early try.
Roman Ntamack came to life, midway through the first half, to set up an attack that finished with a Thomas Ramos try, before scoring a try off an intercept from a Cooney pass.
The half ended on a high note for Ulster, though, as McIlroy scored his second after a sweet Billy Burns dink to the corner. Cooney added two second half penalties while Ramos tagged three points back for the reigning European champions.
With Ulster down to 14 men, and with Kieran Treadwell sparked from a tackle, Antoine Dupont fizzed over from close range. His try was converted and Ulster hearts were left broken.
"You feel sick for Tom O'Toole," reflected BT Sport commentator Hugh Cahill, while former Ulster players Andrew Trimble and Stephen Ferris both agreed with the red card call.
Our Man of the Match: Ethan Mclroy (Ulster)