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Ulster secure Champions Cup quarter-final berth after edging past Bath at Kingspan Stadium

 

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Ulster's Will Addison goes over for their third try in their win over Bath (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Ulster's Will Addison goes over for their third try in their win over Bath (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Marcell Coetzee scores the opening try for Ulster

Marcell Coetzee scores the opening try for Ulster

©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Will Addison is fit to start for Ulster

Will Addison is fit to start for Ulster

©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Ulster's head coach Dan McFarland

Ulster's head coach Dan McFarland

©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Ulster's Will Addison goes over for their third try in their win over Bath (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Ulster will be playing knockout rugby in April after confirming their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup with a 22-15 win over Bath at Kingspan Stadium.

Dan McFarland's side did just about enough to see off the English visitors to guarantee they will finish as one of the best pool runners-up and therefore be granted a knockout tie.

They will have to wait until the conclusion of Sunday's action to find out who they will face, with it likely to be one of Racing 92, Toulouse or the Exeter Chiefs, but the emphasis from the team will be on back-to-back quarter-final appearances, signalling more progression.

They made hard work of seeing off Bath, however, with the under-strength and already eliminated visitors putting up a valiant fight in defeat.

But tries from Robert Baloucoune and Will Addison just after the restart, combined with an early Marcell Coetzee score, were enough to see Ulster over the line and ensure their place at Europe's top table in the next round.

The hosts' start was about as good as they could have asked for as they went ahead after just six minutes. The maul set up the try, driving just shy of the line, and that allowed Coetzee to crash over from close range for the opener.

But what they didn't expect was Bath making a game of it, and the English side drew level shortly after when Freddie Burns, taking after brother Billy, put in a cross-field kick that eluded Jacob Stockdale and found Ruaridh McConnochie to crash over.

It looked like Ulster had a brilliant chance to retake the lead when they then went a man to the good as Bath flanker Tom Ellis saw yellow for a shove on John Cooney as the scrum-half tried to support a searing break from Coetzee.

However, for the second week in a row, Ulster couldn't take advantage, a combination of good defence from Bath and the hosts' own wastefulness, seeing the English side see out the sin-bin and get to the interval level.

But after the break Ulster were ruthlessly clinical, and they manufactured an unassailable lead inside the opening seven minutes of the second half through two well-taken scores.

The first was created by Addison, the full-back dummying to go through a gap in the line before slinging a sensational backhanded offload to the wing for Robert Baloucoune to go over in the corner.

The second was scored by the Ireland international, this time two well-timed passes from Stuart McCloskey and Stockdale putting the No.15 into enough space down the wing to sear over for their third score.

In between that, Bath's Burns had reduced the gap with a second penalty of the afternoon, and they then made it a nervy finish when a well-set maul drove over the line, with hooker Ross Batty the man to pop up with the ball.

Ulster thought they had their bonus point try, and their place in the last-eight chalked off when Kieran Treadwell's score was ruled out for a forward pass from Cooney to Iain Henderson.

But their spot was assured when Batty saw red for a high tackle on Cooney, with Billy Burns slotting the penalty to guarantee them knockout rugby in April.

It wasn't pretty, but it's job done, and now Ulster can look forward to a second quarter-final in as many years. Not a bad day's work, all things considered.

Relive all the action from this afternoon's game on our live blog:

 

Belfast Telegraph