Toulouse scored five tries to ease past Ulster and advance to the last four of the Heineken Champions Cup.
Wing Cheslin Kolbe crossed twice to bookend a first half that could have seen the French side out of sight had it not been for Thomas Ramos’ wayward kicking.
Tries after the break from Antoine Dupont, Pita Akhi and Ramos helped the four-time competition winners canter to victory, with scrum-half John Cooney adding a late consolation for Dan McFarland’s men.
- We didn’t look like a quarter-final team – McFarland
Searching for their first Champions Cup triumph since 2010, Toulouse will meet either Exeter Chiefs or Northampton Saints in the semi-final with Racing 92 facing Saracens in the other tie.
It was far from the performance Ulster would have hoped for, having entered the contest as firm underdogs they never looked likely to cause an upset, and end their season with four defeats in their five games since rugby returned in August.
Kolbe class puts Toulouse in control
A peculiar first half started and ended with excellent finishes from mesmeric South African wing Kolbe, as Toulouse found a cutting edge that evaded Ulster throughout the match.
It took less than three minutes for Dupont to drive his side into the 22 before flipping a long pass out to Kolbe on the right flank, who stepped inside to cross.
For their part Ulster made some lively breaks, with Michael Lowry looking dangerous at fly-half having switched to 10 when Billy Burns was forced off with an injury, but the Irish province found their time in possession to be short-lived as Toulouse’s tryline remained untroubled.
Having opened his account with a 14th-minute penalty following a missed conversion, the usually reliable Ramos missed two routine penalties, allowing Cooney to kick Ulster back to within one score just before the half hour mark.
It was in this spell that Ulster were most likely to make a meaningful contest of the game, but Toulouse’s dominance was re-established before the interval as Kolbe again stepped inside Jacob Stockdale to score.
Without the injured Marcell Coetzee, Ulster struggled for big carries with the ball but did work their way towards the five-metre line shortly after the break.
Having set-up a driving maul from a line-out, Ulster were forced back but Cooney was able to recycle the ball as the visitors inched closer to the line, only for Joe Tekori to exact a brilliant turnover under his own posts to release the pressure.
The missed opportunity was compounded three minutes later as Sofiane Guitoune broke through a tackle to race clear and send Dupont between the posts.
From then, the result appeared as good as assured with Ulster making little impression with what possession they did have.
Akhi gathered his own grubber kick to add a fourth score on 61 minutes before Ramos ran in after another simple break from Guitoune.
Eight minutes from time Cooney collected Lowry’s cross-field kick to give Ulster the final say, but by then there was no question as to which side would be progressing to compete for a place in the final.