Bath Rugby were defeated 25-11 by a spirited Leinster side in Dublin, bringing their European Rugby Champions Cup campaign to an end for this season.
Both sides looked to play open and expansive rugby, but it was a tale of the kickers in the first-half, with all the points coming from opposing fly-halves George Ford and Ian Madigan.
The home side looked lively, and two promising breaks led to the first points of the game as Madigan stepped up to the kicking-tee and slotting a penalty home.
Bath’s first points came in the 30th minute, when a powerful driving maul left Leinster with no option but to stop it illegally. Ford sent the resulting penalty sailing cleanly through the posts to draw level. 3-3.
Two quick penalties for Madigan, the second coinciding with a yellow card for Dominic Day, saw the home side take a 9-3 lead, before it looked as if Bath had scored the first try of the game.
Jonathan Joseph stole the ball and broke free of the on-rushing defenders. He chipped ahead, sparking a footrace between Leroy Houston and the Leinster backs. Both touched the ball down over the try-line, and it was up to TMO Eric Gonthier to make the call. Unfortunately for Bath, he ruled in Leinster’s favour and no try was awarded.
Play shifted quickly to the other end of the field and, to compound matters on the stroke of half-time, Anthony Watson was judged to have made a high tackle and Madigan took the three points to extend the home side’s lead.
Half-time: Leinster Rugby 12 – Bath Rugby 3
The Irish fly-half widened the gap once more six minutes into the second-half, a simple kick in front of the posts yielding another three points. 15-3.
The game ebbed and flowed, with both sides looking to stick to their attack-driven mind-set, despite the rain that had started to fall. As a consequence, much of the play stayed in the middle third of the field, the defences keeping any breaks in check before they reached the 22’s.
Strong pressure at the set-piece from Bath’s forwards earned a penalty at the scrum, and then a strong drive from the resulting lineout saw Houston cross the whitewash – and this time the try was awarded. 15-8.
The score gave the visitors a lift, but it also galvanised the home side, and they quickly replied with a try of their own - replacement hooker, Sean Cronin, bursting through from short range and stretching over to score. Madigan’s excellent night with the boot continued as he added the conversion. 22-8.
A tip tackle from Ben Te’o on Jonathan Joseph gave replacement Rhys Priestland the opportunity to reduce the deficit with another penalty, but it was cancelled out on the 76th minute by a further successful kick from Madigan.
Final score: Leinster Rugby 25 – Bath Rugby 11.