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Leinster hold-off spirited second half comeback from Bath Rugby

Despite a spirited second-half comeback, Leinster came away 25-17 winners on Bath Rugby's final pre-season game at the Donnybrook Stadium, Dublin.  

It was a closely-fought first half, with not much to separate the two sides in the opening 40 minutes.

However, it was Leinster, who had the chance to get the first points on the board after Bath were penalised at the scrum. Fly-half Ross Byrne stepped up but his effort missed to the right of the posts with eight minutes on the clock. 

The home side continued to put pressure on the Bath defence and were nearly rewarded midway through the half. Byrne broke through the gap and found Will Connors, who gave his side a perfect platform to mount an attack deep inside the Bath 22. The ball was recycled to Ronan Kelleher, but a superb tackle from Elliott Stooke saw the hooker lose the ball forward with the tryline in touching distance. 

The deadlock was finally broken after 24 minutes, with Byrne atoning for his earlier miss to put his side three points to the good. 3-0

The tackles kept flying in with James Phillips putting in some crunching hits in a closely poised first half. In the closing 10 minutes of the half, Leinster finally broke Bath's defence with Max Deegan surging over from close range.

Half-time score – Leinster 8-0 Bath Rugby

Leinster started the second half just as they finished the first with another trip over the whitewash. It was a clever grubber kick through the Bath defence from replacement fly-half Joey Carbery, which ended in a footrace. Unfortunately for Bath, it was Dave Kearney who managed to beat the back-tracking Bath defence to add a second try of the evening for the Pro 14 outfit. 15-0

The game looked like it was getting away from the Blue, Black and White, but some individual brilliance from Ben Tapuai four minutes later gave his side fresh hope. The Australian danced around the Leinster defence, weaving his way through the tackles before finishing in style in the corner. 15-5

It was a case of game on after 53 minutes following some great work from the forward pack. Bath used the maul to good effect edging closer to the tryline, expertly watched by Kahn Fotuali’i. The Samoan waited for the right moment before he picked the ball and dived for the line. Freddie Burns added his first points on his return to the Club to take it to a three-point ball game. 15-12

With five minutes left on the clock, Leinster gave themselves a bit of breathing space with another close range effort. The home team went through a number of phases and that persistence was rewarded when Nick McCarthy found a hole for a seven-point score. 25-12

Bath continued to fight until the very end and two minutes later Fotuali’i added his second try in what was an impressive 40 minutes from the scrum-half. Matt Banahan looked like he was going to get among the scorers, but was tackled short. The Bath stalwart attempted to find Fotuali’i with the offload, but the Leinster defence managed to intercept his pass. However, with the ball going loose over the tryline, Fotuali’i instinctively pounced to reduce the deficit. 25-17

Leinster closed out the final moments and it was left to the impressive Carbery to clear to touch and close out the game.

Final score – Leinster 25-17 Bath Rugby

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