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PREVIEW: Heaslip: Leinster must improve

Tuesday 17th November 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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La terrible désillusion vécue face aux Wasps en ouverture laisse déjà le Leinster dans une situation très inconfortable. Ils peuvent se racheter

La terrible désillusion vécue face aux Wasps en ouverture laisse déjà le Leinster dans une situation très inconfortable. Ils peuvent se racheter

Jamie Heaslip admits Leinster need to take a major step forward against Bath this weekend if they are to keep themselves in the hunt in European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 5.

The Irish province, three time winners of the tournament, were beaten 33-6 at home by Wasps in their tournament opener, a record home defeat for Leo Cullen’s men.

The loss immediately puts Leinster on the back foot in a fiendishly challenging group, which also includes three-time defending champion Toulon and Aviva Premiership runners-up Bath.

An instant response is needed at The Recreation Ground against a Bath side who Leinster knocked out at the quarter-final stage in Dublin last season.

Skipper Heaslip is confident his men can get a result if they can produce greater accuracy in their attacking game, admitting they have no other option.

“We simply were not good enough and just have to be better against Bath,” said the Ireland number eight. “Against Wasps we got into the 22 quite a lot but then we would turn it over with a knock-on or we just were not accurate at the breakdown.

“That would relinquish the pressure we had and they would just kick it back and we’d have to go again.Then they would score against the flow of the game and a side like them, they are so quick, all they need is a half break and they punish you. That’s what happens at this level.”

Head Coach Cullen acknowledged his side will need to lift themselves mentally as well as physically following the painful defeat, before facing a Bath side who will be playing their first game in the tournament following the postponement of their clash with Toulon.

“There was a lot of dejection in the dressing room after a result like that, the guys felt a bit like they let themselves down,” said the former lock.

“But it is very important to dust ourselves down because it is a very short turnaround. That is all we can focus on ahead of the next game.”

Match Facts

  • Leinster Rugby have won six of their seven matches against Bath Rugby, including an 18-15 victory in the 2014/15 quarter finals.
  • Bath Rugby have never won a match on home soil against Leinster Rugby in the Champions Cup, their only win against the province coming on the road.
  • Bath have only won two of their 13 matches against Irish clubs in the competition with the last of those victories occurring in 2005.
  • Leinster have lost only three of their last 17 matches against English opponents in the Champions Cup (W12, D2), however one of those defeats came just last weekend against Wasps.

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REPORT: Ford boots Bath to victory

Saturday 21st November 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Devant une foule record au Recreation Ground

Devant une foule record au Recreation Ground

Bath Rugby turned to their firepower up front to bag their first European win over Leinster Rugby at The Recreation Ground and leave the three-time champions floundering in Pool 5 after a 19-16 defeat.

A penalty try awarded by French referee Jerome Garces in the 62nd minute set Bath on their way and then another mighty shove at a scrum 15 minutes later gave George Ford the chance to shoot for glory.

The England outside half had knocked over two penalties, a drop goal and converted the penalty try earlier in the game and his radar was perfect for the 40 metre penalty shot that once again put his side ahead with a mere four minutes to play.

The boot of Johnny Sexton kept Leinster in touch or much of the game as he landed three penalties to make it 9-9 after 55 minutes. It was tight from start to finish and, in the end, it was the home scrum that made the difference, with loose head prop Nick Auterac being awarded the Heineken Man of the Match award.

Defeat for Leinster after their 33-6 home loss to Wasps in round one meant it was the first time since 1996 they have lost their opening two Pool matches. It is also the first time since 1998/99 that they have lost three games in a row after their semi-final defeat in Marseille last season.

Their next assignments are both against the reigning champions, RC Toulon, with the first game coming at Stade Felix-Mayol. On the bright side, Bath lost their opening two games last season and still made the quarter-finals.

Once they had conceded the penalty try it would have been easy for the Leinster players to drop their heads, but they came rushing back into the game with a try from replacement back row man Josh van der Flier that Sexton converted to level the scores at 16-16 with 10 minutes left to play.

And when Sexton pointed to the posts two minutes later to tee-up a 56 metre shot at goal the Bath supporters had their hearts in their mouths. His kick was on target, but fell just short.

Then came the Bath penalty from a scrum wide out on the right and just outside the Leinster 22. Ford stepped up and never looked like missing.

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