Bath player ratings vs Ulster | Champions Cup 2023/24
Bath player ratings live from The Rec: We arrived curious to learn whether Bath could transfer their huge upswing in Gallagher Premiership form onto the European stage; we left believing this could be the first season since 2014/15 that the once giants of the English game are potentially a real deal again in this tournament.
Not since 1998, when they lifted the trophy in Bordeaux versus Brive, have Bath been considered a true Champions Cup heavyweight.
Three quarter-finals and a sole semi-final appearance have been their lot in the quarter-century since then – and you even had to go back to January 2018 to find their most recent pool win before this deserved 37-14 success versus Ulster.
Premiership buoyancy (five wins in eight outings for second place) in Johann van Graan’s second season in charge have the fans believing that the outlook is now finally bright again.
And with new arrival Finn Russell orchestrating their attack and club owner Bruce Craig forking out to improve the soft pitch stitching in recent weeks, their run of 10 successive Champions Cup losses finally ended with a second-half flourish decorated by three late tries. Here are the Bath player ratings:
15. Matt Gallagher – 6.5
Is keeping Tom de Glanville out of the selection and we saw in patches why. It was his kick that gave Ulster the prompt for their second try, but he had the last laugh with his last-minute walk-in.
14. Joe Cokanasiga – 7.5
Unwanted by Borthwick’s England for the recent Rugby World Cup but cherished by van Graan’s Bath. Eager all afternoon for ball involvement and he was adequately rewarded with two well-taken tries.
13. Ollie Lawrence – 8
Has been in top gear in recent weeks and he reprised all that and more here. Will be kicking himself – literally – for the error that gifted Ulster their first try, but his frequent defence-busting carrying was so very important to ensure Bath were rich winners.
12. Cameron Redpath – 7
Another who has been impressive of late and he too continued that influence versus Ulster, even joining the maul for the crucial Tom Dunn try and then landing a splendid touchline conversion right at the finish.
11. Will Muir – 6
It was his footwork that was important in getting Bath busy in attack early in the game when chances were at a premium. Less involved in the second period, but still solid.
10. Finn Russell – 7.5
Has been touted as the best bang-for-buck singing in this season’s league and there sure is magic in his hands with his ability to shift the ball. He quit the kicking tee duties after making a hames of an early attempt, but the other parts of his game were up to scratch.
9. Ben Spencer – 8
The skipper played a captain’s part, even taking on the place-kicking duties after Russell’s mishap. His ability to make the right decision was encapsulated by his fabulous pass for Cokanasiga to break the first-half deadlock.
1. Beno Obano – 8
It’s been a while since the loosehead has caught the eye but he was top-notch here with his set-piece and his all-round game and he sounded chuffed when talking about it post-game.
— Rugby on TNT Sports (@rugbyontnt) December 9, 2023
2. Tom Dunn – 7
Had one lineout stolen but didn’t falter, going on to score the early second-half converted try that put Bath into the lead they were never to lose.
3. Will Stuart – 7.5
Gave it socks in his battle with Steven Kitschoff and it was a scrum penalty advantage on halfway that allowed Bath to have to courage to go and attack, pressure that eventually led to the lead-taking converted maul try some minutes later. Exited on 52 minutes for Thomas du Toit to do his thing excellently, both at set-piece and with a try.
4. Elliott Stooke – 6.5
A game of contrasts in that he won some ball and lost some ball, but his engine kept purring and he made sure Bath eventually won the arm wrestle. Not bad when you consider this was only his second outing since his return from Montpellier.
5. Charlie Ewels – 6.5
Ran out solo to fireworks for what was his 150th appearance, he can take great pride that he helped to eventually subdue this Ulster effort.
7. Sam Underhill – 7.5
Tackle king in the Rugby World Cup bronze final, it was no surprise that he led the Bath charge defensively here to top that particular category.
8. Alfie Barbeary – 7.5
Comes with a much chunkier complexion these days, which generously helps his ball-carrying heft. Will be annoyed that one lost ball contributed to Ulster’s opening score but he otherwise led the fightback.
18. Thomas du Toit – 8
While Ulster fired on multiple subs early, the tighthead was the only Bath replacement to have more than 10 minutes. He was excellent in his 28-minute appearance, scoring and dominating at the set-piece.
"We stitched the pitch…"
– Johann van Graan was thrilled that the remedial work Bath did on their soft Rec pitch gave them a stable surface to get stuck into Ulster at scrum time. #BATvULS #InvestecChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/TvRwlSUsBC
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 9, 2023