Catt returns to guide Bath clear

Bath 22 Leeds 13

The contrast in performance from first half to second could not have been more marked, but considering Bath had 14 men unavailable through injury or international honours, they deserved to stay top of the Premiership through the victory earned by the unglamorous cauliflower ears up front and the faultless boot of Chris Malone.

The back line may have malfunctioned, none more so than when Spencer Davey ignored a two-man overlap in the 55th minute, but in mitigation they were inexperienced and playing out of position. The forwards however were muscular and dominant and Leeds were too often reduced to conceding penalties to stop them. Frequently they entered rucks and mauls from the side - seven times in the first half that the referee spotted - and Matt Salter suffered when he was sent to the sin-bin in the 52nd minute for dragging down an impressive Bath rumble.

The match was evenly poised at his dismissal, but from stuttering and lethargic Bath capitalised on their numerical superiority with added fire and brimstone, Matt Stevens barrelling his way upfield and some precision kicking from Mike Catt at fly-half. His first performance since limping off at Leicester on 29 November looked to have come too early during the first half, particularly as he felt a twinge in the warm-up five minutes before kick-off, but from the resumption he was efficient and commanded territory.

However, his body language suggests he doubts his recovery, as he subconsciously massaged his legs during pauses in play. The breakthrough came when Isaac Feaunati clambered over the line to score in the 62nd minute, seconds before Salter's return. Bath now held the lead for the first time at 19-13 and it was just reward for the pack. It looked a lot better three minutes later when Gordon Ross hit the post with a simple penalty kick. The change in momentum was exemplified by Andy Beattie catching the rebound, charging to the 22 before presenting the ball cleanly and then watching the resulting kick sail past the Leeds 10-metre line. Instead of being a penalty ahead Bath kept their six-point lead and gained territory that Malone capitalised on with another kick in the 71st minute. Playing in an unaccustomed role at full-back, Malone's kicking of 17 points on a blustery day ensured the endeavour of the forwards was not wasted.

John Connolly, Bath's head coach, was pleased. "Winning the Premiership is still our main target," he said. Mike Tindall could start next week in the Powergen quarter-final at Leeds. If he does return it will be three weeks ahead of schedule and will boost Bath's championship hopes, especially with Matt Perry needing an operation on his groin.

Bath: C Malone; W Human, A Higgins, S Davey, A Crockett; M Catt, M Wood; D Flatman, J Humphreys (capt) (L Mears, 62) , D Bell (M Stevens, 49), J Hudson, R Fidler, A Beattie, M Lipman (D Barnes, 23), I Feaunati.

Leeds: M Cardey; D Scarbrough, T Davies, A Snyman, P Christophers; G Ross (D Hodge, 75), A Dickens; M Holt (M Cusack, 64), R Rawlinson, G Powell, P Murphy (S Hooper, 64), T Palmer (capt), M Salter, D Hyde (S Morgan , 67), C Rigney.

Referee: D Rose (Birmingham).

News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own