Bath Rugby undone by European Champions

Although the second half saw tries from Stephen Donald, Dave Attwood and Ben Williams, Bath Rugby were undone by a powerful Leinster side at the Aviva Stadium, as the visitors went down 52-27 in Round 4 of the Heineken Cup.

Olly Barkley provided Bath's other points with three conversions and two penalties, but Leinster had control of the game throughout, scoring tries through Rob Kearney, Luke Fitzgerald (two), Jonny Sexton, Eoin Reddan, Rhys Ruddock and Ian Madigan, with Sexton adding six conversions and a drop goal, and Isa Nacewa the final conversion.

Leinster opened the scoring with a try in the 4th minute. Jonny Sexton had attempted a penalty, only to see the ball rebound off the post. It fell into the hands of Jamie Heaslip, and from there the first assault on the Bath try line began, with Rob Kearney eventually powering over from short range. Sexton added the extras, giving the home side a 7-0 lead.

A penalty at the scrum gave Bath their first chance for points, and Olly Barkley stepped up and made sure the kick was successful. Sexton extended the lead though moments later with an audacious drop goal attempt from 40 metres out. 10-3.

Barkley clawed back another three points to take Bath to within four points, and whilst the champions had the run of play, the normally resilient Bath defence stood firm for the next ten minutes, until a yellow card for Leinster's captain Leo Cullen seemed to spur the province on to up their performance another level.

Cullen had been off the pitch for just a minute when Fitzgerald went over for the first of his brace, as Devlin Toner stole the ball deep down the field and barged his way into space. He offloaded to the supporting Rob Kearney, who broke free of the chasing defence, and put Fitzgerald in to cross. Sexton converted, extending the lead to 17-6.

The fly-half turned try scorer for Leinster's third, as they set up a neat overlap out wide for Sexton to go over in the corner. He converted his own try, and the scores remained the same until half-time. 24-6.

Whilst Bath would have come out for the second half desperate to find some way to get themselves back into the game, Leinster had other ideas, and scored their fourth try within moments of the re-start. They broke from deep, working the ball into the hands of Fitzgerald who sprinted away to cross for his second. Sexton was once more accurate with the boot, taking the score to 31-6.

Leinster were converting every opportunity they had into points, and although Bath were making headway into the opposition half, they were unable to find a way through the staunch Irish defence.

It went from bad to worse for Bath on 49 minutes, as Sam Vesty was yellow carded for attempting to kill a ruck, and Leinster took advantage, scrum-half Eoin Reddan taking a quick tap penalty and diving over from short range. Man of the Match Sexton converted. 38-6.

Hooker Chris Biller joined Vesty in the sin bin six minutes later, and it took just two minutes for Leinster to work the gap once more and for replacement Rhys Ruddock to canter over the line from short range. Sexton added the extra two. 45-6.

With under 20 minutes left of the game, Bath were still striving to get some points on the board, and were finally able to find some gaps in the Leinster defence.

Nick Abendanon weaved his way through, and the move resulted in the ball being spun quickly through the hands. Fly-half Donald powered through the Leinster tacklers to touch down for Bath's first try of the game. Barkley completed the try with a tricky conversion from out wide.

Albeit too late to alter the outcome of the game, Bath didn't give up, and with just under ten minutes remaining, some strong phase play worked Attwood into space and the towering lock went in under the posts unopposed to score. Barkley was again accurate with the boot to turn the five points into seven. 45-20.

The final three minutes saw both teams score once more, with replacement Ian Madigan crossing and Isa Nacewa adding another seven for Leinster, before Ben Williams took advantage of some loose defending to cross over for Bath's third try with the last play of the game and Barkley secured the conversion.

Final score 52 – 27.

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