Tyrone Howe: Too little from Toulouse has given Ulster great chance of glory
Last Sunday’s match between Wasps and Toulouse gave us another timely reminder of just how good the Heineken Cup is as a competition.
After six rounds of Pool matches, it all came down to the last two minutes of the final game.
We knew who had qualified, but not how the quarter-finals would line up.
David Lemi’s try for Wasps in the dying minutes changed the whole landscape of the knockout stages.
Last season’s draw almost guaranteed a French victor, but this year the tables have been turned.
This may well haunt the current holders Toulouse, who ambled through the competition only to have been caught short in the end.
All Toulouse had to do was achieve a losing bonus point and score two tries to secure a home quarter-final. A win would have seen Ulster travel to the most successful team in the history of the competition.
Instead, if the shock of defeat was not enough, scoring just one try could be the setback that might sound the death knell for Toulouse in this year’s competition.
The draw could not be better for Ulster.
As Harlequins showed several weeks ago, Northampton are not unbeatable. Being forced to move the match from fortress Franklin’s Gardens effectively renders the home of Milton Keynes Dons FC neutral territory.
This is far less daunting that the Stade Toulousain.
There is plenty to respect, but nothing to fear, and the incentive of a home semi-final makes it that bit more juicy.