Juan Cruz Mallia had scored last year, just a few months after his arrival as a medical joker, his team’s only try in the final at Twickenham against La Rochelle. Her European honeymoon came to an abrupt end.
The Argentinian winger was sent off in the 11th minute for having mowed down his counterpart Ben Moxham in the air, spoiling the defending champion’s good start, put into orbit by a strong try from the overpowering Australian second line Emmanuel Meafou.
In a sold-out Stadium, the Rouge et Noir have long demonstrated at fourteen against fifteen an enormous defensive commitment which should leave its mark physically.
After having gone through a difficult period in the absence of many French internationals, they also showed great things offensively, like this major movement concluded by Matthis Lebel, finally marred by an unfortunate forward in a ruck.
The Irish, thanks to a triple from their elusive winger Robert Baloucoune, thought they could leave Haute-Garonne with a comfortable 13-point mattress.
But a last-minute try from Romain Ntamack, in a great burst of pride, reduced Toulouse’s deficit to 6 units. Something to maintain hope.
Because this talented generation, inhabited by winning, is certainly able to impose itself in Belfast if it has met as much desire as in front of its public.
The latter copiously whistled the English referee Wayne Barnes at the end of the match, reproaching him for not having canceled Baloucoune’s third try, on the verge of offside before intercepting a pass from Antoine Dupont.
Toulouse coach Ugo Mola said during the week that he did not want to make any calculations next week on the return: “The best thing is to win twice. That way we don’t get bored.” Eventually it will have to be resolved.
In Toulouse (Municipal Stadium), Ulster (IRL) beat Toulouse (FRA) 26-20 (half-time: 7-13) Tries: 2 for Toulouse, 4 for Ulster.