European Cup latest from Kingspan Stadium: Ulster lead Bath

ULSTER 22 BATH 15

Saturday, 18th January 2020, 5:14 pm
Marcell Coetzee scores the opening try for Ulster against Bath

It was the perfect start for the hosts, a lineout - although there was a crooked hint about it - was secured, the maul was set and drove on before number eight Marcell Coetzee picked up and drove over from close range.

There was a TMO review - the potential hint of a ball going forward during the drive, but the try stood.

Scrumhalf John Cooney added the extras and it was 7-0 after as many minutes.

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Bath outhalf Freddie Burns missed a penalty attempt on 14 minutes, but Bath were level five minutes later when wing Ruaridh McConnochie crossed, Burns converting.

It was a tight contest from that, Ulster doing a lot of playing, Bath doing everything they could to stop it.

A great passage saw Ulster outhalf Billy Burns set Coetzee on a huge boost, but just like in France, with an overlap on, the hosts butchered a scoring chance, the number eight failing to get his pass away to temporary replacement Craig Gilroy (on for a blood injury to Will Addison). But on TMO review, Cooney who had been on Coetzee’s other shoulder was pushed deliberately by Bath backrow Tom Ellis - earning the latter a yellow card.

Ulster opted for the touch from the penalty and criminally the lineout was crooked - raising the argument again about turning down the kick at goal.

Ulster's Will Addison goes over for a try against Bath

For the second successive week Ulster failed to make their numerical advantage count and it remained level at the interval.

Ulster came out of the blocks in the second half with 50 seconds on the clock when a lovely passage involving Burns and Addison, saw the latter give a reverse pass to winger Robert Baloucoune and try followed. Cooney converted from the touchline.

Burns banged over a penalty, but Ulster hit from the midfield again McCloskey the linkman this time with Addison finally charging down the wing to score an unconverted try in the corner for a 19-10 lead on 48 minutes.

The English visitors were not giving up and on 66 minutes replacement hooker Ross Batty got over for an unconverted try to keep the home support feeling nervous and when a Kieran Treadwell try was chalked off for an earlier marginal forward pass between Cooney and captain Iain Henderson with 12 minutes to go, those nerves failed to ease.

Eight minutes from the end Batty saw red for a dangerous challenge on Cooney, the latter going off and being replaced by David Shanahan.

The penalty option was for the sticks, and Billy Burns - his first this season in Europe - slotted it through to put Ulster seven points ahead at 22-15.