Bath Rugby racked up a third and final pre-season victory, winning a game of two halves against Leinster last night ahead of the first Premiership clash with Worcester.
Within the opening minutes Nick Abendanon, Tom Cheeseman and Jack Cuthbert commenced the game with some impressive passing that would set the precedent for the majority of the match and although Shaun Berne attempted a drop goal, for which he was just wide, he answered the miss by taking a successful penalty kick at the 4th minute.
Enterprising passing between new Bath favourite, Michael Claassens and the skipper, Crockett, gave Bath the opportunity to take the ball towards the opposition's 22, which was met with a strong kick from Berne.
With a line out quickly won by Bath, and after a pass from Crockett, Nick Abendanon displayed the fiery pace that he has become renowned for, powering down the wing straight into Leinster's 22, although their efforts were countered by a penalty kick at the 18th minute by Leinster's fly half, Christian Warner.
Leinster were matching Bath's efforts and shot the ball into the home 22, but Nick Abendanon was quick to retrieve and send it off the pitch where it thundered into the roof of Kronenburg stand. Gary Brown for Leinster saw to it that it was taken back into the home side's enclave, and with a chance to move into the lead, Leinster's fly half took a kick at 24th minute, but with the ball flailing too wide, Warner failed to score.
After half-time, with Leinster leading on 6 - 3, Bath brought on Rob Fidler for Peter Short and Daniel Browne for Zak Feaunati. The Bath Centre, Shaun Berne, was quick to answer the lead, striking the ball over the posts to take Bath back into the comfort zone.
The second half proved a much tighter match than the first, and although Jonathan Sexton sent the ball over the posts in 47th minute, Leinster's efforts were not enough to keep them in the game for a victory.
Tom Cheeseman saw the opportunity to send the ball towards Leinster's waiting defenders and with a pass to Nick Abendanon, Leinster were forced to employ two men in a bid to take him down, but he stayed on his feet long enough to give Bath the chance to win a penalty and Shaun Berne once again kicked it over the posts at 51st minute.
Leinster's Number 11, Rob Kearney, made an explosive run straight down the middle and whilst it looked like it was going to result in a try, a forward pass put paid to that.
Cracking run from Berne and then making its way up to Banahan, afforded Bath the chance to make a further penalty kick by Berne. (15 - 9) at 62nd min. Rob Fidler made excellent headway, then it came across the pitch to Captain Crockett who set up the try for David Barnes who soared over the line in superman style to give Bath an 11-point lead, which soon increased with a successful conversion by Berne.
Electric final minutes of the match saw Matt Banahan explode up the wing to an awaiting Crockett, who slipped the ball to Davis and Walshe, who set up an excellent touch down by Aaron Jarvis in the 79th minute. Berne stamped his mark on the final seconds with a conversion that saw Bath victorious at 29 to 9.
Bath defence Coach Brad Davis said of the game: "What was important as far as lessons from this match go, was the fact that when we held on to the ball and put phases together, we showed we could open Leinster up. A number of the club's younger players, like Tom Cheeseman, who was outstanding tonight - are really pushing their cases for Premiership rugby now."
BATH RUGBY: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Jack Cuthbert, 13 Alex Crockett (capt), 12 Tom Cheeseman (Ryan Davis 65mins), 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Shaun Berne, 9 Michael Claassens (Nick Walshe 69mins), 1 David Barnes (Aaron Jarvis 69mins), 2 Pieter Dixon (Rob Hawkins 69mins), 3 Paulica Ion (Laurence Ovens 69mins), 4 Martin Purdy (Peter Short 73mins), 5 Peter Short (Rob Fidler 41mins), 6 Chris Goodman, 7 James Scaysbrook (Jonny Faamatuainu 11mins), 8 Zak Feaunati (Daniel Browne 41mins).
LEINSTER: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Gary Brown, 13 Luke Fitzgerald, 12 Michael Berne, 11 Fionn Carr (Fergus McFadden 61mins), 10 Christian Warner (Jonathan Sexton 41mins, Christian Warner 62mins), 9 Chris Whitaker (capt, Cillian Willis 41mins, Chris Keane 61mins)), 1 Stan Wright (Cian Healey 41mins), 2 Bernard Jackman (Brian Blaney 55mins), 3 Juan-Francisco Gomez (Steven Knoop 14mins, Stan Wright 65mins), 4 Trevor Hogan, 5 Devin Toner (Sean O'Brien 50mins), 6 Stephen Keogh (Kevin McLaughlin 65mins), 7 Keith Gleeson, 8 Kevin McLaughlin (Cameron Jowitt 41mins).
4: Penalty Berne, 3 - 0
19: Penalty Warner, 3 -3
30: Penalty Warner, 3 - 6
38: Penalty Berne, 6 -6
43:Penalty Berne, 9 - 6
47: Penalty Sexton, 9 - 9
51:Penalty Berne, 12 - 9
63:Penalty Berne, 15 - 9
68: Try Barnes, Conversion Berne, 22 - 9
79: Try Jarvis, Conversion Berne, 29 - 9