Bath secured their second win of 2011 with a 16-13 home victory over Leeds Carnegie. A try from Nick Abendanon, three penalties and a conversion from Olly Barkley, ended Leeds' three match winning streak and aided Bath in their climb back up the Aviva Premiership.
With the previous night's rain cloud clearing, rays of sun drenched the Recreation Ground ready for Bath Rugby's second game of 2011. Visitors Leeds Carnegie made the lengthy trip intent on increasing their three match winning streak.
It was all Bath in the opening five minutes with total domination of both territory and possession and a flat pass from Butch James let Matt Banahan blast his way through the defence. A Banahan-esque pass out of the tackle was superbly picked up by Lewis Moody taking Bath deep into Leeds try area but Leeds withstood the early onslaught.
However, the home sides early play was rewarded after Leeds were found guilty of pulling down the lineout. Olly Barkley stepped up and struck the 45 metre kick superbly, taking the home side three ahead. 3-0.
Leeds, determined to increase their consecutive winning streak to four, were far from disheartened by Bath's early domination. The visitors executed their own wave of attack and were also rewarded for their efforts with a penalty in which Ceiron Thomas duly converted. 3-3.
Bath's response was much more impressive. Spinning the ball across the width of the pitch, Banahan again mowed down his opposing defender to be tackled on the line. The referee's whistle blew and Warren Fury was sent to the sin for deliberately slowing down the Bath attack. With a mixture of handling errors and desperate Leeds defence, Bath still could not cross the try line.
A Leeds attack with just five minutes left in the half looked as if progress was being restricted with excellent Bath defence. With no way of penetrating the Blue, Black and White's gain line, the only option was a drop goal which came from Scott Barrow taking Leeds ahead by three points.
The last play of the half saw another onslaught of Bath assaults in which Leeds were stretched in all areas of the field. The back three linked up well with Jack Cuthbert, Banahan and Nick Abendanon keeping play in Leeds half with some excellent counter attacks. Leeds could not handle the pace of Bath and veteran England hooker Steve Thompson was penalised for disrupting the ruck from an offside position. Barkley slotted the short range effort making the scores six a piece at half time.
Bath started the second half in the same way they did the first. Leeds knocked the restart into touch giving Bath a strong attacking lineout to work from. A great inside pass from James put Abendanon through a hole in which he weaved through the final defenders to touch down right of the posts. Barkley added the extras. 13-6.
Bath's wide play was really beginning to open up the Leeds defence with two clear breaks, once from Cuthbert and another from Ben Skirving. However, their efforts were thwarted, with Cuthbert penalised for holding on and Skirving not letting the ball carrier to his feet. Despite the penalties, it was a clear display of Bath's attacking with purpose.
Leeds however were showing their composure in the forwards and with a forceful attacking play and after a handful of phases, Thompson took the ball short from the breakdown to take Leeds two points behind. Thomas converted tie-ing the scores once more with 20 minutes left. 13-13
A defending lineout and box kick clearance landed Bath with a penalty after Leeds were deemed offside. Banahan went for the quick tap and go but was to be brought back by the referee underneath the boos of the Rec crowd. Barkley soon had them cheering however, after he coolly slotted the penalty to take Bath back in the lead. 16-13.
Demonstrating that their own pack could use their weight, a massive scrum from Bath drove Leeds backwards to force a penalty for collapsing the scrum. Barkley stepped up to take the long distanced kick, but he couldn't get the distance.
It was all too late for Leeds and another scrum gave Bath the base to begin their final attack. Simon Taylor picked up the ball from the back of the scrum and drove onwards as the last few seconds on the clock ticked down. With the entire Bath pack securing the ruck the clock counted down to zero, and as captain Michael Claassens sent the ball into touch, the crowd roared as Bath made it two wins from two in 2011.