Dublin: 14°C Wednesday 4 August 2021


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GOOD AFTERNOON AND welcome along to our liveblog of Leinster’s huge Champions Cup clash with Bath in The Rec. Kick-off is at 3.15pm but we’ll be building up to the game over the next hour.

Leo Cullen’s men were well beaten by Wasps at home last weekend, so need a major response today if they are to keep their European campaign alive heading into December.

Let us know how you think the game will go in the comments section, by emailing us at sport@the42.ie or tweeting us @rugby_ie. 

Leinster’s players are at The Rec having strolled down from their nearby hotel.

Leinster players arrive Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

So, to the team sheets. Leinster have welcomed back several important players for this tie, including captain Isa Nacewa.

The return of Ben Te’o in the midfield will be useful for their hopes of getting over the gainline more often than last weekend, while Luke Fitzgerald gets a start alongside him in the 12 shirt. Eoin Reddan is dropped from the matchday squad.


15. Isa Nacewa (c)
14. Fergus McFadden
13. Ben Te’o
12. Luke Fitzgerald
11. Dave Kearney
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Isaac Boss;

1. Cian Healy
2. Sean Cronin
3. Mike Ross
4. Devin Toner
5. Hayden Triggs
6. Rhys Ruddock
7. Jordi Murphy
8. Jamie Heaslip


16. James Tracy
17. Jack McGrath
18. Martin Moore
19. Dominic Ryan
20. Josh Van Der Flier
21. Luke McGrath
22. Ian Madigan
23. Zane Kirchner

And here’s how the home side line out. George Ford’s World Cup didn’t go according to plan, but he remains the heartbeat of this ambitious attacking Bath team.


15. Anthony Watson
14. Semesa Rokoduguni
13. Ollie Devoto
12. Kyle Eastmond
11. Matt Banahan
10. George Ford
9. Chris Cook

1. Nick Auterac
2. Rob Webber
3. Henry Thomas
4. Dom Day
5. David Attwood
6. Matt Garvey
7. Francois Louw (c)
8. Leroy Houston


16. Ross Batty
17. Nathan Catt
18. Max Lahiff
19. Stuart Hooper
20. Alafoti Fa’osiliva
21. Niko Matawalu
22. Rhys Priestland
23. Tom Homer

It’s a sunny, cool day in Bath, so hopefully that means ideal conditions for an exciting game. Mike Ford’s men are often a joy to watch with their rugby league-inspired attacking diamonds and dynamic individual runners.

A view of the Recreation Ground Source: Andrew Fosker/INPHO

Leinster have attempted to play some nice attacking rugby this season too, so the hope is that both teams approach today with a positive mindset. That said, Leinster would take any sort of win regardless of how entertaining.

I will endeavour to do the best for this club, because it means a huge amount to me. I’d be a firm believer in the ability we have in this building.

“We had a bad day at the office, and it’s important that we address certain things that did not go well and move on to the next challenge.”

Here’s what Leo Cullen had to say this week following that hugely dispiriting defeat to Wasps at the RDS.

How important is it for Leinster to have Nacewa back? The eastern province certainly looked to lack leadership last weekend.

Those who have travelled to The Rec will expect more this weekend…

A Leinster fan Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“I think you throw that game into the bin,” says Mike Ford in his pre-match interview with BT Sport when asked about Leinster’s big defeat last weekend.

Leo Cullen says this one is “close to must-win.”

History means nothing? European rugby stats that might give Leinster fans some hope:

  • Leinster have won six of their seven matches against Bath, including an 18-15 victory in last season’s quarter-final.
  • Bath have never won a match at the Rec against Leinster in Europe’s top flight; their only victory against the Irish province was at the old Lansdowne Road in 2005/06.
  • Bath have only won two of their 13 matches against Irish opposition in the European Cup.

Around 1,000 Leinster fans have made the trip to Bath for this huge game. Will they be seeing a victory for Isa Nacewa’s men? Get your predictions in now…

A minute’s silence at The Rec in honour of those who lost their lives in the Paris attacks…


Good start from Leinster! Solid and aggressive in defence and then Luke Fitzgerald sparks up the right hand touchline. Bath come in the side and Sexton kicks to touch.

There was a lovely hit from Ben Te’o on George Ford in that first defensive set from Leinster. Big impact.

Lovely hands from Bath send Rokoduguni down the right now, but his chip ahead is too far and Leinster clear their lines.


Leinster’s attack poor that time though and Boss ends up box kicking away.


Eastmond darts through the Leinster defence as Bath’s screen plays start causing havoc, but the England centre then offloads straight into Leinster hands. Mike Ford’s men look very dangerous, their handling is so sharp.


Penalty to Leinster! Hooper goes off his feet at ruck time and Sexton will surely kick this, from 40 metres out and straight in front.


PENALTY! Bath 0-3 Leinster (Sexton ’9)!

No problems for the Ireland out-half.


That’s a nice start off the tee for Sexton.


Te’o is making a huge impact in defence so far for Leinster. Getting up out of the line and hammering into ball carriers, not afraid to leave a shoulder in even after the ball has been moved on.

But Leinster defending in their 22 now as Bath look to strike back…


Leinster’s defence held up on that occasion, but Bath asking major questions with their handling and lovely structure. Always more than one option for the playmakers, very tough to defend this for 80 minutes.


Scrum penalty for Bath! Garces says Leinster wheeled the scrum under pressure, looks like Mike Ross is the man who was pinged there. Auterac got a huge nudge up on the loosehead side there.

Ford to have a shot at goal…

Flag 16Mins

PENALTY! Bath 3-3 Leinster (Ford ’16)

The England international is on target from the right.


It’s very tight so far at The Rec. Bath look the more threatening side but they have had the majority of possession. Cullen will hope to see his men get on the ball soon and show their own attacking quality.


Another scrum penalty for Bath! Garces again says they wheel under pressure. That’s a big concern early on here, the Leinster pack have got to get that right.

Ford launches the penalty into touch on the left, just on Leinster’s 22.


DROP GOAL! Bath 6-3 Leinster (Ford ’21)


Ford takes a shot with advantage being played and he’s on target again. Leinster had a chance to clear their lines after an initial error off the lineout by Bath, but Sexton went cross-field rather than deep and the English side came right back at them.

Garces was playing the advantage for a failure to roll away and Ford pops the ball over to give his men the lead.


Leinster finally get some attacking possession but Francois Louw turns them over in the breakdown wide on the left and near halfway. Bath counter wide to the far side, but Banahan dinks the ball ahead and straight into touch.

Now Sean Cronin’s throw at the lineout is crooked. Poor from Leinster. Scrum coming up…


Leinster win the scrum penalty this time! Garces pings Thomas for losing his bind on Jack McGrath and continuing to push. Sexton fires the ball into touch.


That’s very poor. Fitzgerald is hammered backwards on first phase from the lineout and then Sexton kicks away again with a scuffed effort that Bath claim easily. Leinster have to use their possession more effectively.


This is not the Johnny Sexton that Leinster and Ireland fans have come to love. He looks to be lacking confidence and mental sharpness. The body language of old, those narky demands on others and himself, seem to have somewhat faded.

Cullen will hope the Ireland out-half can regather himself here and grab control of this game.


Leinster are competing aggressively now at the rucks, looking to counter almost everything. Ford cuts Bath’s losses and puts a delightful kick deep behind Isaac Boss and rolling into touch, classy from the out-half.


Oh! Bath think they’ve score in the left corner through Hooper, but the tip-on pass from Banahan was forward. Excellent attacking play to create the chance as Ford and Eastmond prompted the attack from the home team.

All came from a poor Boss box kick, then missed tackles from McFadden and Fitzgerald on Banahan. Louw with a nice offload in there too.


Garces asks his TMO to have a look at a tackle from Cian Healy, asking if the loosehead has used his arms…

But the French ref says, “It’s nothing for me.” Scrum to Leinster.


The scrum battle is now moving in Leinster’s favour. Bath penalised again and Leinster clear the ball from their 22 through Sexton.


Leinster into the Bath 22 now after a big break from Cronin! But Garvey wins a massive breakdown turnover penalty with Bath scrambling.

Cronin threw a short lineout to Triggs at the front, with the lock drawing in Cook to free Cronin for a 50-metre gallop up the left. Leinster hammered Te’o at the Bath defence inside the 22, but Garvey makes a crucial intervention.


Banahan fails to roll away post-tackle and Leinster kick the pen back up towards the Bath 22. Another attacking chance…


Frustrating for Leinster again. Some big carries by Boss, Ruddock and Fitzgerald but then Te’o spills the ball forward as he looks for an offload in the tackle.

The Leinster centre not happy with that call from Garces, but lack of security from Cullen’s men in the tackle again. Healy almost lost it to a strip three phases beforehand.


Scrum penalty to Bath! The home side get back on top of the set-piece as Ross and Healy go backwards.


Bath overthrow their lineout, but Cronin knocks on at the tail as he looks to gather it in. The latest scrum in an intriguing battle coming up…

That’s it, Garces signals half time after Bath scrum-half Cook passes the ball into touch following Banahan’s surge.


HALF TIME: Bath 6-3 Leinster

A penalty and drop goal from out-half George Ford has the home side in front at the break, Leinster’s three points coming from Johnny Sexton’s penalty.

Well, what did you make of that Leinster fans? Bath have looked far more likely to create a try and the Leinster attack has been slightly disappointing aside from a big Cronin break up the right.

Bath’s shape is asking big question of Leinster’s defence, but they’ve coped well so far. Ben Te’o has been impressive in the centre, making some lovely reads and hits.

Cian Healy is one of a number of Leinster players who will look to bring more in the second half. The scrum is something of a concern, despite a pair of penalties there.

David Attwood with Cian Healy Source: Andrew Fosker/INPHO

Bath with over 60% possession in that first half, forcing Leinster to make close to 50 tackles. Leinster will look to get a stranglehold on possession early in the second, and more importantly be clinical when they have it.

Massive 40 minutes here…


Big break from Ford, who steps inside Jordi Murphy…


But Eastmond knocks on several phases later! Leinster did well to recover their defensive shape following that break from Ford, who threw a clever dummy to step inside Murphy and break out from deep inside the Bath half.

He’s a class act.


Huge scrum from Bath! They obliterate the Leinster pack and then Ross goes to ground under the pressure to concede a penalty on the Leinster feed.

Auterac and Thomas have been brilliant, as have the whole Bath pack, at scrum time. Ford will have a shot at goal from 40m out now, in front…


PENALTY! Bath 9-3 Leinster (Ford ’46)


Ford’s penalty clears the crossbar. Leinster may have to make changes to their front row very, very soon.


There’s another good carry from Te’o, who looks so aggressive with every involvement. Fitzgerald slides a clever grubber deep to the left of Bath’s 22 and then Bath fail to release on the deck after Watson gathers the ball in.

Great chase from Leinster and it’s Mike Ross with the penalty! Brilliant from the prop. Sexton will have a go at goal from the left…


Leinster lose possession at the breakdown again, Webber the man to force the penalty this time after Heaslip carries the ball. Cullen’s men second best in that department again this weekend.


Two changes in the Leinster front row.

Mike Ross and Cian Healy head off, with Marty Moore and Jack McGrath on.


Bath spark up the right-hand side to feed Rokoduguni on the touchline and he charges at Leinster. But again, Cullen’s men cope and force the home team into touch.

Another change for Leinster.

Dominic Ryan is on for the injured Hayden Triggs.


It’s a record crowd of 13,480 at the Rec this evening.

A view of the record setting crowd at the game Source: Andrew Fosker/INPHO


Bath in the side of a maul, Sexton has a drop goal effort with advantage being played. Not the prettiest effort by any means…

Back for the penalty, around 30m out on the left-hand side.


The drop goal effort was poor but Sexton bisects the uprights with his penalty to bring the game level!


McFadden gets some treatment but we’ll restart with a Bath scrum after a knock-on of Ford’s drop off.

Niko Matawalu is on for Bath and feeds the scrum… Another penalty follows, despite Leinster’s changes there.

Now Bath are going for the corner! Big call!


Bath hammering the Leinster line…


Garces awards a scrum to Bath after the ball gets trapped with the English side’s forwards battering at the tryline.

Matawalu will feed again from five metres out…


The scrum goes to ground. Garces calls for a reset…

Flag 62Mins

PENALTY TRY! Bath 14-9 Leinster!

Garces goes under the posts as the Bath scrum dominates again!


That was a humbling moment for Leinster’s pack. They made changes in the propping positions but there’s been little difference.

Bath have been dominant in the scrum and Garces didn’t hesitate to head under the posts with the English side rumbling forward from five metres out. Leinster looked to stand up and they now trail by seven.


Change for Leinster.

Josh van der Flier is on for Jordi Murphy in the back row.


Oh dear.

Chance for Leinster with time and space, front foot ball and Bath numbers down in defence, but Te’o spills the ball forward. Hugely frustrating.


Nick Auterac replaced by Nathan Catt for Bath. He had a huge game in the front row for the English side, the scrum has been absolutely crucial in this contest.


There’s a big error from Bath. Devoto attempts to kick deep to the left but the ball flies well beyond the touchline out on the full.

Two changes for Leinster:

James Tracy on for Cronin and Luke McGrath on for Boss.


Sublime from Leinster’s replacements. It was Tracy who started the move with a bug burst up the right, before Dominic Ryan powered forward. The score came when Luke McGrath cleverly put van der Flier away on the right-hand side of a ruck.

The in-form openside smashed through two tackles after breaking and touched down for a huge try!!


Brilliant pace and power from van der Flier!


Now it’s a Leinster scrum penalty! Huge win at the set-piece. Bath collapse under the pressure.

It’s inside the Leinster half, but Sexton wants a shot at goal. This must be right on the edge of his range… Huge moment…


Bath looking to play out of their own half now, Watson surges up the right. Leinster hand knocks the ball on in the tackle on the Bath fullback.

This is a thrilling closing few minutes. On a knife edge.


Scrum penalty for Bath! Ford’s men regain their dominance and power over the top of Leinster.

Ford to have a shot now. He’s wide on the right, around 40m from goal. This is a really difficult kick…

Flag 77Mins

PENALTY! Bath 19-16 Leinster (Ford ’77)

He’s got it! Three minute left for Leinster to save this!


Leinster hammering into the tackles now, Bath in possession inside their own half.


Matawalu breaks forward!


Leinster have the ball back. They’re in their own 22 and have around 90 seconds here…

Flag 79Mins

YELLOW CARD! Alafoti Fa’osiliva sent to the bin for a high tackle. Garces doesn’t hesitate.

Sexton will now kick this to touch and Leinster will have one last chance…

Flag 80Mins

They’ve lost the lineout! Hooper wins it in the air and now Bath just have to run the clock down!

Flag 80Mins

FULL TIME! Bath 19-16 Leinster

It’s all over for Leo Cullen’s men and they look dead and buried in Europe.

So Leinster are left in a dire situation in their pool after two defeats in their opening two games.

Thanks for joining our live coverage and keep the comments coming.




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About the author:

Murray Kinsella