Ulster grabbed their first-ever victory on the banks of the Garonne this afternoon at the Stade Ernest Wallon, following up last weekend's historic 38 - 0 defeat of Toulouse with a hard-fought and fully-deserved away win.
Standout performances from Paddy Jackson and Ruan Pienaar at 10 and nine respectively set the tone, with tries from Pienaar, Andrew Trimble and Luke Marshall putting paid to any threat of a backlash from the Rouge et Noir after last week's humiliation in Belfast.
Ulster now sit second in Pool One on nine points after three games played, with home and away ties against struggling Oyonnax to come either side of their showdown with group leaders Saracens in mid-January.
Les Kiss made only two changes to his starting XV, both in the back row where Sean Reidy replaced Chris Henry for his first-ever European Champions Cup outing, and Roger Wilson came in for Nick Williams at Number Eight. Kiss' mimimal personnel adjustments were in stark contrast to those of his opposite number Ugo Mola, who retained only six of his starters from the demolition at the Kingspan Stadium Friday past.
Ulster's unchanged backline featured Louis Ludik at full-back, Trimble and Craig Gilroy on the wings, Marshall and Stuart McCloskey in the centre, and the tandem of Jackson and Pienaar once again in the half-back berths.
Up front, Kyle McCall and Wiehahn Herbst propped either side of captain Rory Best, with Alan O'Connor and Franco van der Merwe continuing their partnership in the second row, and Robbie Diack packing down alongside Reidy and Wilson.
Jackson's penalty opened the Ulster account in the third minute, and when Toulouse went off their feet just shy of half-way three minutes later, long-range expert Pienaar tried his luck from 58 metres, his kick dragging well wide.
Gilroy made an early exit with suspected concussion after a shuddering tackle from his direct wing opponent Kunatani Kunabuli, replaced by Rory Scholes, and as Toulouse began to put together some of the progressive rugby on which their reputation is built, only some aggressive mauling from Diack held their 19th-minute drive at bay.
A scrum collapse from prop Cyril Baille gave Jackson another pop at the posts from 40 metres just before the half-hour, and although his kick struck the upright and rebounded to safety, patient work from the Ulster forwards in the very next attack made enough space for Pienaar to hop over a mass of bodies in front of the posts for the try on 32 minutes.
Jackson converted, but the Toulouse reaction was instantaneous, with a promising attack only broken up by a deliberate knock-on from Jackson in the Ulster '22' which saw the out-half firstly pummelled by an irate Florian Fritz, then correctly sinbinned by referee JP Doyle for the infraction.
Sébastien Bézy knocked over the three points, and Ulster did well to resist the waves of attacks until the clock moved into red for half-time, even breaking away in the last seconds as Trimble seized possession and combined with Ludik and Pienaar to put in Scholes for a try which was soon ruled out for at least one forward pass in the build-up.
Half-Time Score Toulouse 3 Ulster 10
Bézy added another penalty on 42 minutes just before Jackson made his return to the field, but once back to their full complement Ulster wasted no time in taking back control, McCloskey the instigator with a trademark incisive run through the middle before Trimble picked up from van der Merwe and dove over at the corner flag just in time to avoid the lunges of Thierry Dusautoir and Jean-Marc Doussain.
Jackson's conversion veered wide in the wind, and as the tempo cranked up a gear Toulouse poured straight down the other end where three minutes' of patient forwards possession eventually found Gael Fickou on the right for the try, converted by Bézy.
The scrum-half kicked Toulouse into the lead for the first time in the encounter on 55 minutes after replacement prop Andrew Warwick had been pulled up for an illegal tackle, but another zippy break - this time led by Jackson - carved out the penalty to re-establish the Ulster advantage on the hour.
As the clock reached 70 minutes two successive penalties at scrum-time put Ulster under unwelcome pressure, but indiscipline from the French in their turn gifted the visitors the lineout on the '22' and, although possession was briefly relinquished, a sublime turnover from Jackson set up the move for Marshall to dart over for the killer try, converted again by the out-half.
Replacement Number Eight Louis Picamoles grabbed a last-minute try, converted by Doussain to bring his side to within two points, but Ulster forced the whistle soon after the restart by means of a choke tackle.
Full-Time Score Toulouse 23 Ulster 25
Toulouse (15 - 9) Alexis Palisson; Kunatani Kunabuli, Gael FIckou, Florian Fritz, Timoci Matanavou; Jean-Marc Doussain, Sébastien Bézy
(1 - 8) Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Census Johnston, Gregory Lamboley, Yoann Maestri, Yacouba Camara, Thierry Dusautoir (c), Imanol Harinordoquy
Replacements (16 - 23) Christopher Tolofua, Gurthri Steenkamp, Gert Muller, Joe Tekori, Louis Picamoles, David Mele, Luke McAlister, Clément Poitrenaud
Ulster (15 - 9) Louis Ludik; Andrew Trimble, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Craig Gilroy; Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar
(1 - 8) Kyle McCall, Rory Best (c), Wiehahn Herbst, Alan O'Connor, Franco van der Merwe, Robbie Diack, Sean Reidy, Roger Wilson
Replacements (16 - 23) Rob Herring, Andrew Warwick, Ricky Lutton, Lewis Stevenson, Nick Williams, Paul Marshall, Ian Humphreys, Rory Scholes