Leinster in dire European trouble as Ford's penalty fires Bath to victory

The Irish province have two defeats in two games in the Champions Cup.

Bath 19

Leinster 16

LEINSTER’S CHAMPIONS CUP campaign looks dead and buried after a 19-16 defeat in Bath.

Leo Cullen’s men now face back-to-back clashes with Toulon next month, and though they are not out of the running for the quarter-finals of the competition, it will take a monumental effort for them to qualify out of Pool 5.

Jonathan Sexton dejected Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

George Ford’s late penalty was the winning of the game for Mike Ford’s men, a 42-metre effort from wide on the right handing Bath the victory. Johnny Sexton had a difficult long-range attempt from the tee only minutes before, but came up short.

Leinster do take a losing bonus point from this tie, but two defeats in their opening two Champions Cup games leave them in a dire situation in the pool. Toulon will back themselves to record a double over the Irish province in December.

Bath scored a penalty try at the scrum in the second half, an area of real dominance for the English side throughout, while Ford’s kicking was also pivotal. The England out-half added a drop goal to a composed, smooth performance in the 10 shirt.


Leinster had a try of their own through the impressive replacement back row Josh van der Flier, but couldn’t threaten consistently enough with ball in hand. The dominance of Bath’s scrum and their stronger lineout allowed them to control large parts of the game.

One of the few positives for Leinster was the impact of their bench, with van der Flier, hooker James Tracy, flanker Dominic Ryan and scrum-half Luke McGrath all featuring strongly in the province’s best attack of the evening for their try.

In contrast, the bigger names like Sexton, Jamie Heaslip, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross, Cian Healy and Jordi Murphy again failed to hit the peak Cullen knows they are capable of. Ben Te’o fought for everything in midfield, but his aggression was lacking in others.

The performance level was at least considerably raised from last weekend’s heavy defeat to Wasps at the RDS, but Leinster continually gave Bath chances to establish the lead.

Jamie Heaslip dejected Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO


Many of those moments came at scrum time, with Ross and Healy humbled in that department, while Jack McGrath and Marty Moore didn’t fare any better after replacing the experienced international duo.

The Irish province – largely without threat with ball in hand – had one final attacking chance even after Ford’s penalty, when replacement Alafoti Fa’osiliva was binned for a high tackle, but Bath captain Stuart Hooper rose to claim Tracy’s throw.

Leinster now turn their attention back to the Pro12 with an inter-provincial meeting with Ulster to come on Friday, but the looming December head-to-head with Toulon may well bring even more European pain for Cullen’s men.

Bath scorers:

Tries: Penalty try

Conversions: George Ford (1 from 1)

Penalties: George Ford (3 from 3)

Drop goal: George Ford

Leinster scorers:

Tries: Josh van der Flier

Conversions: Johnny Sexton (1 from 1)

Penalties: Johnny Sexton (3 from 3)

BATH: Anthony Watson (Tom Homer ’77); Semesa Rokoduguni, Ollie Devoto (Rhys Priestland ’71), Kyle Eastmond, Matt Banahan; George Ford, Chris Cook ( Niko Matawalu ’56); Nick Auterac (Nathan Catt ’65), Rob Webber (Ross Batty ’53), Henry Thomas (Max Lahiff ’64); David Attwood, Stuart Hooper; Matt Garvey, Francois Louw (capt.), Leroy Houston (Alafoti Fa’osiliva ’53 – Yellow card ’78).

Replacements not used: Charlie Ewels.

LEINSTER: Isa Nacewa (capt.); Fergus McFadden, Ben Te’o, Luke Fitzgerald, Dave Kearney (Zane Kirchner ’78); Johnny Sexton, Isaac Boss (Luke McGrath ’67); Cian Healy (Jack McGrath ’51), Sean Cronin (James Tracy ’67), Mike Ross (Marty Moore ’51); Devin Toner, Hayden Triggs (Dominic Ryan ’52); Rhys Ruddock, Jordi Murphy (Josh Van Der Flier ’64), Jamie Heaslip.

Replacement not used: Ian Madigan.

Referee: Jérôme Garcès.

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