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How the Ulster players rated during the Champions Cup victory over La Rochelle

Ratings by Jonathan Bradley

Ulster are one small step away from the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup after their thrilling 20-13 win over La Rochelle at Kingspan Stadium.

But how did the individual players perform? Jonathan Bradley was there to cast his eye over the men in white.

Ulster player ratings v La Rochelle

Charles Piutau 7: Led the side in carries and was assuredly more solid looking than in his indifferent showing in Dublin just seven days earlier.

Craig Gilroy 6: Through no fault of his own, Ulster seemed better balanced after his injury. Has been in form so all will be hoping it’s not a broken cheekbone.

Louis Ludik 8: Switched from centre to wing early on and is one man who will have certainly felt it on Sunday. Some brilliantly physical work in defence.

Stuart McCloskey 7:  Another who was tasked with carrying it into the teeth of La Rochelle’s sizeable rearguard. Worked hard for the cause.

Jacob Stockdale 8: Has set high standards this year and won’t need to be told Leinster fell below them. Back at it here and scored a great try.

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Jacob Stockdale celebrates scoring his side's second try.

Christian Leali'ifano 8: Kicking from hand the only blot on the copybook but another performance of real grit on his last outing at Kingspan. Will be missed.

John Cooney 8: Continues to endear himself to the crowd with a spikiness that saw him picking fights with props. His kicking game expertly managed final quarter.

Callum Black 8: Somewhat underplayed storyline of late has been Black’s return to being Ulster’s undisputed first-choice loosehead. Emptied the tank again here.

Rory Best 9: Captain’s effort from man-of-the-match. The ferocity that he hit rucks led the way in terms of showing what’s needed and got over for score.

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Ulster's Rory Best celebrates Saturday's success with his sons Richie and Ben

Rodney Ah You 7: The scrum was something of a mess throughout but was never going to be Ulster’s strength. A few notable carries and big hits.

Alan O'Connor 8:  Is never going to be the flashiest of players but has continued to progress this season. Made 11 tackles and led the side in the line-out.

Mattie Rea 7: A big ask for the youngster up against, and selected ahead, of much bigger names, but he did all that was asked of him and more.

Ian Henderson 9: The skipper got man of the match but Henderson was superb. Forced a few turnovers after his own tackles by spoiling La Rochelle ball.

Sean Reidy 7:  As is par for the course at this stage, Reidy led the side in tackles despite being replaced by Chris Henry for the final 15 minutes of the game.

Nick Timoney 8: Academy man has now featured in Ulster’s last three Euro games. Work-rate was typified by the crucial third score that started with his tackle.

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Ulster's Nick Timoney breaks free to score his side's third try of the game

Replacements

Darren Cave (for Gilroy, 27mins) 8: Big performance.

Kyle McCall (for Black, 57mins) 7: Came in to a high-pressure spot

Kieran Treadwell (for Rea, 57mins) 7: Put himself about.

Chris Henry (for Reidy, 64mins) 6: Could almost have scored but foot in touch.

Ross Kane (for Ah You, 67mins) 6: Held up to scrutiny.

Rob Herring (for Best, 72mins) 6:  Limited minutes but did his job.

Johnny McPhillips (for Leali’ifano, 72mins) 6: Game time in big spot will do him well.

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