REPORT: Leinster 25 Bath 17
August 25, 2017 9:45 pm Site Editor
Leo Cullen will take much food for thought away from three pre-season outings, Leinster making it two wins from three at Donnybrook against an experienced Bath side on Friday night.
It is anyone’s guess as to who will take the field for their first Guinness PRO14 match away to Dragons next Saturday.
Back row forward Caelan Doris’s first contribution as a professional was to take down Taulupe Faletau.
The youngsters were heavily involved in the opening skirmishes, Doris and Max Deegan putting their shoulders to the wheel and full-back Jordan Larmour showing his pace.
Out-half Ross Byrne tickled a kick into the corner as part of the building process. Bath were sound at the lineout and in their exit from out-half Freddie Burns.
The Leinster scrum convinced referee John Lacey they were worthy of a penalty which Byrne could not quite draw in from the right.
Scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park’s positioning to deal with Burns’ grubber and fine kick forward earned a promising lineout before a second throw went astray.
The dexterity of Faletau over the ball was good for a penalty for Burns to take play to Leinster’s 22 where Mick Kearney was there to ruin a maul for yet another turnover.
It took Ross Byrne’s mazy manoeuvre and simple pass, from Burns’ high ball, to release Will Connors, the attack halted by a two-man take down on hooker Rónan Kelleher.
A lovely cut-out pass from Gibson-Park put Byrne outside the first defender and, from there, many hands might light work of the defence to force a penalty for Byrne to make it 3-0 in the 25th minute.
It wasn’t long before lock Mick Kearney couldn’t hold his feet at the back end of a counter ruck. But, Rhys Priestland was wide from 38 metres.
Fergus McFadden’s slap down of a skip ball offered Priestland a chance to squeeze Leinster. A textbook tackle by McFadden on Chris Cook put an end to that and Gibson-Park almost put Barry Daly away down the left.
The fine work of loosehead Ed Byrne and flanker Connors took the eye ahead of Gibson-Park’s immaculate pass giving Daly a one-on-one with Semesa Rokoduguni which he couldn’t exploit.
Leinster’s best moment came from a first phase strike off a solid scrum, Jimmy O’Brien’s exquisite ball sending Daly into space. He just couldn’t find O’Brien with a return ball.
There was a scrum penalty for quick comfort and a five-metre lineout. The dancing feet of Conor O’Brien, nimble work of Ed Byrne, low body angle of Connors onto the ball all preceded Deegan’s X-Factor finish on the left for 8-0 in the 39th minute.
On resumption, it took Joey Carbery all of one minute to manufacture a foot race which Dave Kearney won against full-back Darren Atkins and Carbery converted for 15-0 in the 42nd minute.
When Dave Kearney’s clearance was not accurate, Bath centre Ben Tapuai took advantage of Sean Cronin on the outside to strike back in the 45th minute.
The visitors used the maul to make ground and Kahn Fotuali’i slipped over for Freddie Burns extras to make it 15-12 in the 51st minute.
At this point, Leinster looked for tempo and they found it from Jordi Murphy’s excellence and Carbery’s quickness, the latter striking a penalty on the hour.
The footwork and fizz of Carbery was added to by the drive of Sean Cronin and James Ryan to take Leinster close.
It took Carbery’s improvisation from a bad pass to keep Leinster on the frontfoot.
They were patient there, in the face of strong defence, as scrum-half Nick McCarthy squeezed to the line for Carbery to convert for 25-12 in the 77th minute.
A Matt Banahan offload at the Leinster line didn’t go to hands, but Fotuali’i pounced on the loose ball to claim his second.
It didn’t matter in the end, Leo Cullen’s young side recording an impressive win ahead of a trip to Newport next weekend.
There are just two weeks to go until the first home game of new season against Cardiff Blues at the RDS Arena! Tickets are on sale now, starting from €20.
At Donnybrook – LEINSTER 25 (D Kearney, M Deegan, N McCarthy try each; J Carbery pen, 2 cons; R Byrne pen); BATH 17 (K Fotuali’i 2 tries; B Tapuai try; F Burns con).
15. Jordan Larmour / Cathal Marsh 77
14. Fergus McFadden / Adam Byrne ht
13. Jimmy O’Brien / Hugo Keenan 70
12. Conor O’Brien / Fergus McFadden 56
11. Barry Daly / Dave Kearney ht / Ian Fitzpatrick 68
10. Ross Byrne / Joey Carbery ht
9. Jamison Gibson-Park / Nick McCarthy ht
1. Ed Byrne / Vakh Abdaladze ht
2. Rónan Kelleher / Sean Cronin ht
3. Michael Bent / Andrew Porter ht
4. Ross Molony CAPTAIN / Ian Nagle 56
5. Mick Kearney / James Ryan ht
6. Caelan Doris
7. Will Connors / Jordi Murphy ht
8. Max Deegan
15. Darren Atkins
14. Semesa Rokoduguni
13. Max Clark / M Banahan 62
12. Ben Tapuai / Josh Lewis 47 mins
11. Harry Davies
10. Freddie Burns / Rhys Priestland 22 mins – temp & 60
9. Chris Cook / Kahn Fatuali’i ht
1. Nick Auterac / Beno Obano ht
2. Jack Walker / Tom Dunn ht
3. Kane Palma-Newport / Sam Nixon ht
4. James Phillips / Levi Douglas 60
5. Elliott Stooke / Luke Charteris 60
6. Matt Garvey CAPTAIN / Zach Mercer ht
7. Guy Mercer
8. Taulupe Faletau / Paul Grant ht.
Referee: John Lacey, IRFU.