Heroic Bath Rugby denied in Dublin

Bath Rugby were found lacking in luck as they lost their Champions Cup Quarter-Final 18-15 to three-time champions Leinster in Dublin's Aviva Stadium.

Leinster inside centre Ian Madigan opened the scoring account for the province with a 14th minute penalty, which he kicked from just outside the Bath 22.

Horacio Agulla made the second of two fine charges before the first quarter was up, finding Francois Louw, the Springbok flanker breaking into the home 22. There, Leinster were penalised, and Bath played the advantage to a T as George Ford saw room out wide and went on an arcing run to score the first try of the match. His conversion attempt hit the left upright.

In the 25th minute, fullback Anthony Watson was unlucky to be shown yellow as he was deemed to have taken out opposite number Rob Kearney in the air. Shortly thereafter, Leinster struck two consecutive penalties through the boot of Madigan to take a 9-5 lead.

With fewer than ten minutes left in the first half, Leinster were awarded a scrum penalty which Madigan kicked effortlessly to make it 12-5. Leinster then took a 10-point lead into the second half when Bath were judged to have infringed at a lineout three minutes before the break, an error which was punished by the metronomic Madigan.

Half time: Leinster 15-5 Bath Rugby

Ford was the epitome of a heads-up player seven minutes into the second half as he ghosted through Leinster's 22 and found none other than captain Stuart Hooper on his shoulder. The lock crashed over to score under the posts, ensuring an easy further two points through Ford. 15-12. 

Bath were penalised at the scrum minutes later, and the unflappable Madigan struck again. 18-12.  

The visitors created some magical moments of free-flowing rugby, but invariably failed to deliver the killer blow when it was most needed. 

In the 73rd minute, an infringement at the ruck by Leinster led to Ford closing the gap to just three points. It was at this point that Bath played some of their best rugby, ignited by the urgency of replacement scrum-half Peter Stringer, whose return to the Aviva Stadium was heralded with roars of appreciation from both sets of supporters in the crowd. 

The closest Bath got to delivering that elusive killer blow was when Faosiliva charged down an Eoin Reddan boxkick. Agonisingly, the Samoan flanker was only marginally pipped to the ball over the Leinster line. 

It wouldn't be unfair to label contentious the referee's decision to award a penalty to Leinster which allowed the Irish province to kick the ball out of play and end the game, but supporters had nevertheless been treated to a fascinating spectacle in Ireland's capital. 

Full time: Leinster 18-15 Bath Rugby

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