Bath are hung out to dry as Schmidt gets a taste for the Heineken
Monday 19 December 2011
Joe Schmidt, the Leinster head coach, expressed satisfaction with his side after they inflicted a record Heineken Cup defeat on Bath, prevailing 52-27 on Saturday to open up a six-point lead in Pool Three.
The seven-try rout was the heaviest defeat suffered by Bath in 69 matches in the competition and the first time they had conceded 50 points in a Heineken Cup game.
"We are obviously delighted with the way some of the tries were scored, also some of the running lines, some of the quality in the pass," enthused Schmidt.
"We've come a long way from drawing at Montpellier [last month] but that was only our second or third game together."
Leinster could even afford to lose their captain Leo Cullen to the sin-bin in the first half – and still record 14 unanswered points. Schmidt's side's bonus point was secured 30 seconds into the second half as Luke Fitzgerald sprinted half the length of the field to score his second try. Jonathan Sexton finished with 20 points from a try, a dropped goal and six conversions, while Leinster's other try-scorers were Rob Kearney, Eoin Reddan, Rhys Ruddock and Ian Madigan.
Schmidt was impressed by Fitzgerald's performance in particular. He said: "Luke's been in form for a while. He was more visible because the game was so open and he was allowed to run in a bit more space than he has been."
Elsewhere, London Irish head coach Toby Booth conceded that his team face a huge task to qualify for the quarter-finals after suffering a 25-19 home defeat to Racing Métro.
Irish reinvigorated their campaign with a bonus-point win in Paris, but that work appears in vain after Racing recorded a crucial victory. Visiting fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski proved the difference as he posted three penalties, three drop goals and converted Sereli Bobo's try.
The defeat leaves London Irish five points behind Pool Two's joint leaders Cardiff and Edinburgh with two matches left to play.
"I never accept it [failing to qualify] until it is not possible but, if it was hard enough before, then it is hard enough now," reflected Booth. "We didn't take our chances and we were unable to control the tempo of the game. You have to be clinical and we weren't clinical."
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