Bath Demolish Leeds to reach semi

Bath's European assault continued today as Leeds Carnegie fell victim to a storming defeat by Bath Rugby. With tries in the first minute and the start of the second half, Bath ensured that winning was the only thing on the agenda and when the final whistle blew on the thrilling, high scoring match, the home team walked away with a 57 - 5 score line.

Within the opening minutes Bath set the precedent for the match and made their mark as they were awarded a penalty kick. Olly Barkley's left foot sent the ball directly between the uprights from the 10 metre line after just one minute.

Leeds looked for an immediate response, advancing deep inside the home side's 22, but good defence by Nick Abendanon and Matt Banahan, ensured that they did not threaten the try line for long and four minutes later, the ball was back in Leeds territory for a line out and another chance to launch an attack.

The home faithful did not have long to wait. Having pegged Leeds back on their own line, Bath were back putting pressure on the Yorkshire side and eventually the floodgate opened and a quick pass from Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu to Matt Banahan, saw the wing soar over the line for a try - his eleventh of the season.

Moments later, Nick Abendanon broke free and burst up the right wing where he was taken down inside Leeds' 22, and rapidly offloaded to Alex Crockett to run towards the posts, where the captain swiftly offloaded to the left wing to an awaiting Banahan, hungry for more tries. Leeds engaged their defence inches away from the try line and Bath were prevented from scoring a further five points.

Leeds could not keep a determined Bath at bay for long, as aggressive drives from Danny Grewcock and David Flatman propelled Bath back up to the 10 metre line. At 28 minutes, a pass from Chris Goodman to Barkley gave the fly half the chance to chip for Nick Abendanon to chase, and the fullback gathered, darting over the line for another five points taking Bath up to a 17-0 lead.

In desperate need of some points on their own side of the scoreboard, Rob Vickerman broke away after a pass from the Rec bound Stuart Hooper on the 22 metre line to sprint through the blue, black and white shirts for a try. Failing to slot the conversion, Leeds were forced to content themselves with just five points before the break.

Displaying the same determination in the second half, Bath instantly put some more points on the scoreboard, as, one minute into play, Crockett broke from the 10 metre line, passing to Lipman, Abendanon and then to Fuimaono-Sapulu who offloaded to Andrew Higgins deep inside Leeds' 22 for a try. Barkley converted.

The home fans didn't have to wait long for another seven points, as Olly Barkley broke free from the 22 metre line and sliced through the Leeds defence to ground the all left of the posts. Converting his own try, Barkley took the score up to 31-5 to the home team at 48 minutes. Leeds attempted to make up for some of the points deficit as Darren Edwards slipped through the midfield, to Richard Welding who ran out to the right wing and directly into Jonny Faamatuainu whose tackle knocked the ball out of the wing's hands and into touch on the 22 metre line.

After 59 minutes, replacement Pieter Dixon punched a hole in the Leeds defence out wide and offloaded to the left, where Crockett swiftly passed to Abendanon on the edge of the left wing and finally to Matt Banahan who tripped over the line for his second try of the match. A Barkley conversion took Bath up to a comfortable 36 -5 lead.

Just eight minutes later, Faamatuainu extended thelead, after Andrew Higgins took advantage of a hole in the yellow defence, and made a high pass to the flanker to finish off the run with another five points. And with the fifth conversion of the match, Barkley shot Bath to a lead of 38 points.

The Samoan made his presence felt again at 66 minutes, after some exciting interplay between Barkley, and replacements Tom Cheeseman and Martin Purdy from the halfway line to the visitor's 22, saw Barkley receive and rapidly offload the ball to Jonny Faamatuainu, who galloped over the try line. Unselfishly, he did not ground the ball though and instead passed to supporting team-mate Daniel Browne to score for the five points. Barkley took a tricky conversion from a tight angle on the 22 metre line, but his left foot proved a success as he won two more points for the west country side.

With just three minutes remaining Banahan secured his hat trick as the prolific winger burst through a broken Leeds defence on the left wing to score another easy five points. And Barkley's conversion rounded off a satisfying afternoon for the home side taking the final score to 57 - 5 and a place in the European Challenge Cup semi finals against Sale Sharks.

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