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Dublin: 6 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019

Leinster end pre-season with five-try defeat to Bath in Donnybrook

Cian Healy and Rob Kearney made promising returns for the eastern province.

Leinster 19

Bath 39

Murray Kinsella reports from Donnybrook

LEINSTER’S PRE-SEASON ended in disappointment at Donnybrook as Todd Blackadder’s Bath scored five tries in a lively friendly encounter.

Cian Healy makes a pass despite being being tackled Cian Healy made a promising return for Leinster. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

After beating Ulster and Gloucester in recent weekends, the defeat should serve as a sharpener for Leinster ahead of their Pro12 opener against Treviso at the RDS next Friday evening.

Leo Cullen’s side scored three fine tries of their own against Bath, and had a handful of strong individual displays, but they will look for a more cohesive and error-free showing on the opening weekend of their league campaign.

Leinster again used 29 players, partly explaining the mistakes, with Ireland internationals Cian Healy and Rob Kearney both looking refreshed on their returns from injury lay-offs.

Healy’s performance will have been particularly encouraging for Cullen, as well as Ireland coaches Andy Farrell, Greg Feek and Richie Murphy, in attendance at Donnybrook. The loosehead prop was energetic and impactful around the pitch, though referee Frank Murphy took exception to Leinster’s scrum tactics.

Kearney’s passing was crisp as he made his first appearance of the season, while new signing Jamison Gibson-Park made a lively debut, showing off his smart delivery from the base of the ruck.

Others like Garry Ringrose, Ross Molony, Joey Carbery and James Tracy had impressive moments in the opening half, while tough-tackling openside flanker Dan Leavy delivered an excellent display that was full of intelligent support lines.

The second half saw the on-trial Barry Daly show up well at fullback, while Bryan Byrne and Jeremy Loughman were strong in the front row. Tom Daly’s push for a spot in midfield continued, as Rory O’Loughlin also showed flashes of his quality in the centre.

Toby Faletau stops Peadar Timmins scoring a try Peader Timmins is denied a score. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Bath started emphatically, with their structured attack allowing them to stretch Leinster in the wide channels and leading to an early ruck penalty that Rhys Priestland fired over for the opening score.

With five minutes played, Blackadder’s men had their first try. Clever passes from Dan Bowden and Priestland allowed Matt Garvey to free Semesa Rokoduguni for a 30-metre sprint up the left, the England wing offloading inside for Dave Attwood to score.

Priestland converted for 10-0, then tacked on a second penalty when Leavy was pinged for going off his feet at ruck time.

Leinster finally shook free of their early error count to score a simple 16th-minute try, Healy hammering up on the loosehead side of a scrum in the Bath 22, allowing Kearney to send left wing Adam Byrne over in the left corner.

Carbery’s conversion glided wide, but Leinster – and Healy in particular – were alive. The Ireland international smashed through the Bath defence almost directly from the restart, breaking from Leinster’s 22 and offloading to the clever Leavy.

The openside found Gibson-Park in support and when Leinster then recycled, Ringrose showed delightful footwork to break out to the right. With Leinster now just 10 metres out, Carbery demanded the ball and invited Molony to thunder into a big gap and score under the posts, allowing the easy conversion for 13-12.

Leinster had a possible maul try held up over the tryline coming towards the half-hour mark, but Bath were next on the scoresheet as Anthony Watson produced a sublime offload to allow Jeff Wilson in wide on the right.

Priestland converted impressively for a 20-12 Bath lead at the break.

Jonathan Sexton and Jamie Heaslip at the game Trevor Hogan, Johnny Sexton and Jamie Heaslip watch on. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Nine changes for Leinster at half-time, and a raft more for the visitors, resulted in a scrappy and scoreless third quarter, after which Blackadder’s side settled the quicker. Leinster did defend well in that period, however, with Josh van der Flier and Dominic Ryan winning turnover penalties under their own posts within minutes of each other.

With George Ford on for Priestland, Bath stepped up a gear and continued to hammer at Leinster’s tryline, resulting in the England out-half having the time and space to float a pass over replacement fullback Daly’s head to Rokoduguni for their third try.

Ford missed the difficult conversion chance, before Leinster came back with another thrust as their attack also began to find nice shape again.

Rokoduguni was sin binned for slapping down a potential scoring pass between Tom Daly and Barry Daly in the 69th minute, providing Leinster with a little more space to create a delightful try two minutes later.

Zane Kirchner countered superbly on kick return, fed O’Loughlin on the left touchline and the Old Belvedere centre drew the final defender to put Barry Daly in for the score, converted by Ross Byrne.

Leinster were back within six points at 25-19, but Bath finished by far the stronger. First, turnover ball allowed Max Clark to grubber into acres of space for Harry Davies to gather and canter in.

Then Ford put the final touch on an impressive win for Bath by collecting Ross Byrne’s blocked-down kick to streak home from 75 metres out, with Ford converting both of those closing two tries.

Leinster scorers:

Tries: Adam Byrne, Ross Molony, Barry Daly

Conversions: Joey Carbery [1 from 2], Ross Byrne [1 from 1]

Bath scorers:

Tries: Dave Attwood, Jeff Williams, Semesa Rokoduguni, Harry Davies, George Ford

Conversions: Rhys Priestland [2 from 2], George Ford [2 from 3]

Penalties: Rhys Priestland [2 from 2]

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney (Barry Daly ‘ht); Adam Byrne (Cathal Marsh ’74), Rory O’Loughlin (Zane Kirchner ‘ht), Noel Reid (Tom Daly ’50), Garry Ringrose (Rory O’Loughlin ’50 (Sean McNulty ’74)); Joey Carbery (Cathal Marsh ‘ht (Ross Byrne ’65)), Jamison Gibson-Park (Nick McCarthy ‘ht (Charlie Rock ’65)); Cian Healy (Peter Dooley ‘ht (Andrew Porter ’60)), James Tracy (Bryan Byrne ‘ht), Michael Bent (Jeremy Loughman ’46); Ross Molony (captain) (Ian Nagle ‘ht (Josh Murphy ’60)), Mike McCarthy (Hayden Triggs ’46); Josh Murphy (Dominic Ryan ‘ht), Dan Leavy (Peadar Timmins ’60), Peadar Timmins (Josh van der Flier ‘ht).

BATH: Anthony Watson; Jeff Williams (Harry Davies ’62), Max Clark, Dan Bowden (Rory Jennings ’61), Semesa Rokoduguni; Rhys Priestland (George Ford ’62), Kahn Fotuali’i (Will Homer ’62); Nick Auterac (Nathan Catt ‘ht), Ross Batty (Tom Dunn ’62), Henry Thomas (Kane Palma-Newport ’62); Luke Charteris (Charlie Ewels ‘ht), Dave Attwood; Matt Garvey (captain), Dave Denton (Tom Ellis ’51), Toby Faletau (Dave Sisi ’51).

Referee: Frank Murphy [IRFU].

Attendance: 3,982.

- This article was updated at 22.05 to correctly identify Dan Bowden as part of the build-up to Dave Attwood’s try.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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