Mike Ford admits disappointment as Bath slip to defeat against Toulon
Head coach Mike Ford did not hide his disappointment at the end of Bath's European Champions Cup campaign after a 19-14 home defeat to holders Toulon.
But he did find some consolation in the emergence of athletic young lock Charlie Ewels who made a strong impression against the French galacticos.
"Charlie Ewels was outstanding today," said Ford. "Tommy Ellis is another to keep your eye on, coming off the bench today. Those two coming through this year has been a big bonus."
Bath battled back after half-time to take a 14-11 lead with an Anthony Watson try and a third penalty by George Ford, but a soft Bryan Habna try and a late penalty from James O'Connor saw Toulon into the quarter-finals.
"Toulon are a good side, a very good side - we knew that," said coach Ford, who also praised first-half try scorer Steffon Armitage for his work at the breakdown.
"We didn't get the quick, clean ball we wanted to. Our defence was good, our set piece too but we didn't get any quality ball from the ruck. But I thought the boys played well, really well.
"It's just disappointing we lost the game."
He added: "We were playing against the three-times champions and we were at Rec. We wanted to give the supporters something to shout about and be proud of us. You've also got to give respect to the competition.
"We lost it against Wasps here. We needed to win that game to give us a chance. We're out of the competition now so we're looking forward to the Premiership - 14 games left. Our goal is to get to the play-offs and win it."
Former Bath head coach Steve Meehan, now in charge of Toulon's attack, said: "Everyone talked about how difficult this pool was. We got off to an ordinary start at Wasps, should have got four tries and a bonus point at Leinster.
"Being away in the quarter-finals just means it's a different route. If you get to the final eight of the Champions Cup it doesn't matter where you're at - you'll be playing good rugby teams. We've proved here and in Dublin we can go away and win. If we do that we'll be playing at Nice in the semi-finals - and that's close to home."
Meehan was pleased to be back in Bath, adding: "It's been brilliant. I've had a great day. The Bath supporters have been really warm in their welcome."
Asked if he would look forward to returning with Toulon if the French club were to be successful in applying to join the Aviva Premiership, he just laughed off the idea.
"Yes, it's been an interesting week. I think with that sort of stuff it's a headline. I wouldn't worry about it too much."