Bath blow Ulster out of the water with devastating second-half showing

Ulster led by six points at the break but shipped 29 points without replay after the break

Champions Cup Pool 2: Bath 37 Ulster 14

Ulster shipped five tries in defeat to Bath at The Recreation Ground for what was a disastrous start to the province’s Champions Cup campaign.

Having taken a fortunate six-point lead into the break, Dan McFarland’s men barely got into the game at all in the second half, allowing 29 points without reply.

Indeed, by the time Matt Gallagher went over in the final moments, the Ulster tries from Billy Burns and Nathan Doak felt an age ago.

Coming into Champions Cup action off the back of two URC defeats, most recently a damaging performance against Edinburgh on their own patch, a healthy travelling contingent of supporters had likely made their way to The Rec in hope rather than expectation.


The mood will hardly have improved after Johann van Graan’s side led 8-0 after 33 minutes, building their advantage through a Joe Cokanasiga try and Ben Spencer penalty.

Improbably, however, it would be the northern province who headed in at half-time ahead.

Two tries in four minutes, the first fortuitous, the second brilliant, saw them 14-8 to the good at the turn.

First Burns had reacted quickest when Ollie Lawrence booted the ball into the Ulster outhalf, scooping up to score at a time when Ulster really needed one.

Only four minutes later, with Stewart Moore having narrowly avoided a knock-on, Ulster sprang into life with the backs moving the ball at real pace from inside their own half to work Doak through a gap to score between the posts.

The second half, though, was one-way traffic. Without the platform of a scrum, and Bath’s forward dominance suffocating them from the game, Ulster barely sniffed an opportunity.

Bath, meanwhile, sensed blood and used their set-piece as a launching pad to finish off the challenge of their visitors.

A mauled effort from hooker Tom Dunn was just reward for how well his side had been doing up front and, when Ulster lost Matty Rea to a yellow card with 15 minutes left, there looked no way back for the province.

Springbok Thomas du Toit scored soon after and Cokanasiga’s second of the day brought up Bath’s try bonus. With Ulster reeling, Gallagher’s late effort added insult to injury.

SCORERS – Bath: J Cokanasiga 2 tries, T Dunn, T du Toit, M Gallagher try each; B Spencer 2 pens, 2 cons, O Bailey con. Ulster: B Burns, N Doak try each; N Doak 2 cons 2.

BATH: M Gallagher; J Cokanasiga, O Lawrence, C Redpath, W Muir; F Russell, B Spencer; B Obano, T Dunn, W Stuart; E Stooke, C Ewels; M Reid, S Underhill, A Barbeary.

Replacements: T du Toit for Stuart (51 mins); N Annett for Dunn, J Schoeman for Obano, GJ van Velze for Reid (all 70); J Coetzee for Barbeary (72); L Schreuder for Spencer, O Bailey for Russell, W Butt for Lawrence (all 76).

ULSTER: S Moore; R Baloucoune, J Hume, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; B Burns, N Doak; S Kitshoff, T Stewart, T O’Toole; A O’Connor, I Henderson; D Ewers, N Timoney, J McNabney.

Replacements: R Herring for Stewart, M Moore for O’Toole (both 47 mins); K Treadwell for O’Connor (49); J Cooney for Doak (51); M Rea for McNabney, J Flannery for Burns (both 59); A Warwick for Kitshoff (71); M Lowry for S Moore (70).

Referee: P Brousset (Fra).

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