MATCH SUMMARY - LEINSTER RUGBY 45-20 BATH RUGBY
Bath Rugby suffered a 45-20 defeat in their opening round of the Heineken Champions Cup against Leinster Rugby.
Orlando Bailey kicked penalties either side of tries from Jamison Gibson-Park and Tadgh Furlong before Leinster added two more scores via James Lowe and Hugo Keenan ahead of the break.
Jacques du Toit whistled down the wing for a Bath try on 38 minutes but finishes from Ronan Kelleher and Josh van der Flier, as well as five Ross Byrne conversions, completed the scoring for Leinster.
Bath did have the final say in the game with wing Gabriel Hamer-Webb dancing his way under the sticks for a brilliant effort.
Five starting players were making their first ever Champions Cup appearance while Richard de Carpentier made his maiden start and outing for Bath in the competition after eight minutes on the field for Harlequins.
Debutant Orlando Bailey partnered Ben Spencer at half-back. The scrum-half was passed fit to play after going off in last weekend’s Gallagher Premiership match at Northampton Saints.
Despite having three Covid cases, Leinster managed to field a starting XV with a collective 1,228 provincial appearances. Leo Cullen’s replacements bench also had a wealth of experience with the likes of Cian Healy, Devin Toner and Luke McGrath adding up to 664 matches combined.
Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Ciaran Frawley, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park; 1 Andrew Porter, 2 Ronan Kelleher, 3 Tadgh Furlong, 4 Ross Molony, 5 Ryan Baird, 6 Rhys Ruddock (c), 7 Josh Van der Flier, 8 Caelen Doris
Replacements: 16 Dan Sheehan, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Ala'alatoa, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Jimmy O'Brien, 23 Tommy O'Brien
Bath Rugby: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Will Butt, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Will Muir, 10 Orlando Bailey, 9 Ben Spencer; 1 Lewis Boyce, 2 Jacques du Toit, 3 Will Stuart, 4 Josh McNally, 5 Charlie Ewels ©, 6 Tom Ellis, 7 Richard de Carpentier, 8 Josh Bayliss
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Arthur Cordwell, 18 D’Arcy Rae, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Ewan Richards, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Gabriel Hamer-Webb, 23 Tom Prydie
Bath made a positive start to the game, forcing Leinster to concede an early breakdown penalty and from the kick to touch, the visitors edged their way forward into a position where Bailey could kick successfully at goal following another home infringement.
The hosts immediately got themselves back into the contest courtesy of a try from Ireland scrum-half Gibson-Park. Exploiting an overlap on the left, Lowe set off on a sprint before sending the nine on a free run to the line.
Leinster continued to churn out lively attacking moments and a set-piece move allowed captain Rhys Ruddock to sweep around and power on. When he was hauled down inches out, Gibson-Park found Furlong on a crash ball and the British & Irish Lion bundled home.
Bailey replied with a superb long-range penalty but Leinster crossed again soon after – Lowe credited with the score.
Keenan and Gibson-Park extended the Irish province’s advantage with further dot downs ahead of the break.
Before the interval however, Bath earned yardage deep into the Leinster 22. A fantastically worked line-out move saw Josh Bayliss peel off and send du Toit hurtling into the corner.
Hooker Tom Dunn was introduced at half-time and his impact saw the Blue, Black and Whites improve at scrum time, winning two early penalties.
His opposite man Kelleher had joy away from the scrum as he scrambled under the posts for Leinster’s sixth try on 47 minutes.
A powerful maul almost saw Bath sneak into the corner for their second score of the match, but a referral saw a penalty given to Leinster instead, and the four-time European champions gained field advantage with van der Flier barging his way over.
Bath emptied the bench in the second half, giving European debuts to young homegrown players in Arthur Cordwell and Ewan Richards with Tom Prydie also earning his maiden outing in a Bath shirt.
It gave the Blue, Black and Whites energy in defence and that massive effort transferred into points as Hamer-Webb danced through a host of bodies for a wonderful try to round off the game’s scoring.