|European Rugby Champions Cup – Pool 1|
|Leinster: (28) 42|
|Tries: Conan, O’Loughlin, Lowe, Byrne, Leavy, Gibson-Park Cons: Sexton (5), Byrne|
|Bath: (10) 15|
|Tries: Louw, Underhill Cons: Wilson Pens: Wilson|
Champions Cup holders Leinster made up ground on pool leaders Toulouse and ended Bath’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages with victory in Dublin.
Tries from Jack Conan, Rory O’Loughlin, James Lowe and Adam Byrne secured the hosts a bonus point in the first half.
Francois Louw and Sam Underhill crossed for Bath, who are 10 points behind Leinster in Pool 1.
Dan Leavy and Jamison Gibson-Park both scored in the second half to seal the win for the four-time champions.
The Irish side sit second, two points behind Toulouse, who they face in the next round of matches.
|Champions Cup Pool 1|
Sexton pulls the strings
Leinster will be delighted that World Rugby player of the year Johnny Sexton signed a new contract earlier this week after he was instrumental at fly-half yet again.
The Ireland playmaker suffered a calf injury during last weekend’s return fixture at Bath, but put on a fine show for his national head coach Joe Schmidt and his successor Andy Farrell in the Aviva crowd.
A well-judged cross-field kick from Sexton helped Lowe up to the 22 in the build-up to a move that eventually led to Conan’s try.
Then a quick switch between the fly-half and centre Garry Ringrose sent winger Jordan Larmour through, helping O’Loughlin to score on his first European start for almost two years.
The bonus point came for Leinster after another perfectly weighted kick from Sexton found Byrne with plenty of space to dot down on the right wing.
Leavy barrelled over in the second half and Sexton converted, making it five kicks from five in the game before leaving the field in the 61st minute.
What they said
Man-of-the-match Leinster centre Rory O’Loughlin said:
“We planned to show more intent and we worked hard off the ball to create the extra man in attack.
“I knew I’d have to put in a performance if I wanted to get a chance. The competition is so high that you have to be on your A game when you get an opportunity.
“We were disappointed that we let the game get away from us at Toulouse [in round two] and we’ve played catch up ever since so that’s going to be a crucial game against them in the next round of matches.”
Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder said:
“We didn’t make the tackles, there are no excuses for that and that’s often the difference in these massive games.
“These games highlight your strengths and weaknesses. We’ll reassess and come up with a plan for the last two pool matches.”
Leinster: Larmour; Byrne, Ringrose, O’Loughlin, Lowe; Sexton, McGrath; Healy, Cronin, Furlong, Toner, Ryan, Leavy, van der Flier, Conan.
Replacements: Ruddock for van der Flier (44), Porter for Furlong (46), Tracy for Cronin (54), E Byrne for Healy (54), Gibson-Park for McGrath (61), R Byrne for Sexton (61), Molony for Ryan (69), Reid for Ringrose (71)
Bath: McConnochie; Rokoduguni, Willison, Roberts, Vuna; Wilson, Chudley; van Rooyen, Dunn, Thomas, Ewels, Ellis, Underhill, Louw.
Replacements: Garvey for Underhill (9), Underhill for Garvey (19), Atkins for Willison (21), Catt for va Rooyen (48), Lahiff for Thomas (54), Walker for Dunn (54), Garvey for Louw (60), Fotuali’i for Chudley (60), Stooke for Ewels (69), Davies on Wilson (71)
Ref: Pascal Gauzère (France)
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