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Baloucoune sees triple, Mallia sees red

A winger on fire and an option for qualification, but also a red card that looks like a turning point and a gradual loss of breath… Find the Tops and Flops of the Champions Cup round of 16 first leg won by Ulster ( 20-26).

TOPS

Baloucoune attracts the attention of Toulouse
Who else but him to be voted man of the match? Hat-trick author Robert Baloucoune stunned his whole class in the first act of this Champions Cup round of 16. At the end of a surplus (12th), he woke his people up after 10 minutes of domination by Toulouse. While Ulster enjoyed the power play for 70 minutes (see below), the winger wasted no time in rushing into space and scoring two more tries. The first after a major job repairing his center Stuart McCloskey (44th) before crucifying the Toulousains on an 80m run after intercepting an ill-adjusted pass from Antoine Dupont (65th). A decisive X factor.

Ulster takes an option on the quarter-finals
Unbeaten on the European stage since the start of this 2021-2022 edition, the Irish from Ulster ideally started their double showdown against the champions of France and Europe by winning at the stadium. If their throws were disrupted during the meeting, the Ulstermen could count on a solid conquest, as evidenced by the third attempt of strength from the Pillar replacing Andrew Warwick (58th) and an iron defense against Toulouse’s attacks in the final 20 minutes , despite the late attempt by Romain Ntamack (79th). With a six-point lead into the second leg, which they play at home this weekend at their Kingspan Stadium, Belfast, all lights are green for Ulster.

Thomas Ramos, inexhaustible booster
He is one of the Toulouse players who stood out the most during this first leg. Impeccable in his role as a scorer (4/5) and author of 10 points, Thomas Ramos was also valuable and applied to recovery and coverage. The rear of the Rouge et Noir stood out in particular with a boost of 60 meters after the siren, allowing his partners to believe in the sweet dream of victory. A strike by Martin Page-Relo finally put an end to the hopes of Ugo Mola’s men.

FLOPS

Juan Cruz Mallia, a catastrophic turning point of the match
This is inevitably the most important fact of the match of this Champions Cup round of 16 first leg. While Stade Toulousain got off to an ideal start with a strong effort from Emmanuel Meafou (5th), the Rouge et Noir were suddenly outnumbered after the red card Juan Cruz Mallía. Guilty of an illegal charge against Ben Moxham, who ended up on his head after a candle, the Argentine winger left his partners 14-15 for 70 minutes. If his partners are less successful in dealing damage, they cash in a 26 out of 13 in his absence.

Out of breath, the champion corrected in the second half
After Stade Toulousain came into the locker room with a six-point lead (13-7), Stade Toulousain suffered from his numerical inferiority for almost the entire second act. With no balls, the Reds and Blacks saw the Irish waves rise over their 22 meters before conceding three attempts. Despite an outburst of pride at the end of the game, especially Romain Ntamack’s test, Stade Toulousain fell at home in the final stages of the European Cup. A first since the 2005-2006 season. The reigning European champions now have a week to prepare for the return leg and put in an authentic performance in Belfast.

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