Sexton steers Leinster in Bath

12th Dec 2011, 06:43

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Rock steady: Jonathan Sexton

Rock steady: Jonathan Sexton

Leinster reduced their odds of retaining the Heineken Cup title after recording an 18-13 victory over Bath at the Recreation Ground.

Leinster sliced their odds of retaining their Heineken Cup title after winning 18-13 against a struggling Bath side at the Recreation Ground on Sunday.

It wasn't pretty but was a performance that proved why they are champions as Jonathan Sexton scored all of the points in a workmanlike effort.

Bath did, despite the majority of pressure being on their own line, go over for the only try of the game after Jack Cuthbert send in Matt Banahan. But that 13-12 advantage proved short-lived as Leinster picked up two more penalties in the closing stages to take a stranglehold of Pool 3.

It was end-to-end in the opening few minutes of the game, as both sides pushed to take the lead. Bath were perhaps looking the most dangerous though, with a handful of chances in the first fifteen minutes, but Leinster's defence stood firm.

The visitors, who were without centre Brian O'Driscoll, had two great chances of their own soon after, but failed to capitalise on either.

Both sides were putting in massive hits throughout, with crunching tackles aplenty, but neither side were able to make an impression on the score board.

Bath finally got the game's first offering halfway through the opening period, Olly Barkley on target from a penalty, as the game began to shape up nicely.

The hosts had a lot of possession for the remainder of the half, and extended their lead from another Barkley penalty, but they couldn't find that all-important try their play deserved.

Leinster responded well before the break, and just before the half time whistle as Sexton reduced the arrears to three points, making it a low-scoring 6-3 score at the interval to Bath.

The visitors stepped it up still further in the second half and drew level from a Sexton penalty early on, and when Leinster took the lead with another kick, the balance of play had firmly swung the Irish side's way.

Despite another Sexton penalty put Leinster six clear and the away side seemingly looking on top, Bath fought right back into it when a Banahan lifted the Rec. Barkley added to vital two points for a 13-12 lead.

Leinster retook the mantle with five minutes to play though with that man Sexton on target with his fifth penalty. And with Francois Louw sent to the sin-bin for Bath, the game was up for the host, as the visitors retained possession for the rest of the contest, Sexton rounding off a fine personal performance with a last minute penalty that put the seal on a good game.

The scorers:

For Bath:
Try: Banahan
Con: Barkley
Pen: Barkley 2

For Leinster:
Pen: Sexton 6

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Jack Cuthbert, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Francois Louw (c), 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 David Wilson, 2 Chris Biller, 1 David Flatman.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Beech, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Andy Beattie, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Sam Vesty.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Isa Nacewa, 13 Fergus McFadden, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Damian Browne, 4 Leo Cullen, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Heinke Van Der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Nathan White, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Shane Jennings, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Eoin O'Malley,

Referee: Jerome Garces