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Free-flowing first-half is enough for Leinster to breeze past Bath

By PA
(Photo by PA)

Seven-try Leinster proved too strong for Gallagher Premiership strugglers Bath in a 45-20 Heineken Champions Cup victory at the Aviva Stadium. The 25,403 spectators were treated to a free-flowing first half, at the end of which Leinster led 31-13, with Bath’s late rally seeing Jacques Du Toit crash over from a well-worked lineout move.

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The hosts had dominated up to that point, bagging their bonus point within 24 minutes as Jamison Gibson-Park (two), Tadhg Furlong, James Lowe and Hugo Keenan, with his first European try, all touched down.

Bath’s porous defence leaked two more tries – Ronan Kelleher and Josh van der Flier both crossing before replacement Gabriel Hamer-Webb replied with a late consolation score for Stuart Hopper’s young side. With six of Bath’s starters making their European debuts, a second-minute penalty from fly-half Orlando Bailey settled the early nerves.

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Ex-All Blacks prop John Afoa guests on the latest RugbyPass Offload

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Ex-All Blacks prop John Afoa guests on the latest RugbyPass Offload

However, Leinster soon used numbers on the short side of a ruck, breaking menacingly from the halfway line as Lowe released Gibson-Park for a 25-metre run-in to the left corner. Ross Byrne missed the difficult conversion but added the extras to Furlong’s 11th-minute effort, the man of the match barging over after captain Rhys Ruddock had come around the corner from a line-out.

Bailey’s right boot briefly halved the deficit to 12-6, before another pacy Leinster surge earned them a third try. Lowe dived over from Keenan’s inviting offload, with Byrne converting. After Bailey pushed a long-range penalty wide, Bath had Richard de Carpentier sin-binned for collapsing a maul. Lowe returned the favour for Keenan, sending the full-back over with a lovely short pass. Byrne converted to make it 26-6.

Gibson-Park soon completed his brace, making up for a near miss from Jordan Larmour, but Bath replied before the break when Josh Bayliss broke from a dummy lineout drive to put hooker Du Toit over. Bailey converted from out wide. Bath scrummaged well on the resumption – a notable positive for them – but Leinster slammed the door shut on any potential comeback when Kelleher bulldozed his way over for Byrne to restore the 25-point gap.

Bath went close from a maul before Leinster ended a scrappy third quarter with another try, Tom Ellis doing well to stop Ruddock before Byrne’s pass back inside saw van der Flier score. The number 10 also curled over the conversion. Apart from a Keenan chance and some clever midfield running from Ciaran Frawley, Leinster were sloppy during the closing stages.

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Bath had some good impact from their bench. The fresh legs of Hamer-Webb benefited from a crisp attack off of a lineout to go in under the posts.

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Shaylen 1 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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Jon 7 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
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