Bath's Little leaves Leeds in hot water

Leeds 15 Bath 20

After several months of morale-sapping defeats, Bath seem to have woken up to the seriousness of their situation. This, their second Premiership win in a row, was the perfect way to usher in 2010 after something of an annus horribilis at the Rec.

Steve Meehan's men arrived in Leeds knowing defeat to their nearest relegation rivals would put them bottom. But, having beaten Gloucester convinc-ingly last weekend, they showed admirable spirit to win with five penalties from Nicky Little and a first-half try from the wing Michael Stephenson.

"In September we could have been screaming up the ladder," said Meehan. "But things were tough for us and a lot of clubs could have quite easily imploded under the kind of pressures that we were under. Even when we were having a poor run of results, the morale was still quite high and I don't think people can quite grasp that, or maybe they don't want to.

"But it was there. It was great to finish last year and and begin this one with another victory. We've got players to come back but the guys that are there now are fighting for the club and the supporters."

This match was billed by some as a relegation decider, which was only a slight exaggeration. Bath had the edge throughout, thanks to their superior top-flight experience. Leeds have twice been promoted to the Premiership and twice relegated from it in the last four seasons, while Bath have occupied the upper echelons of the league and competed in the Heineken Cup.

The Yorkshire club lacked nothing in spirit and Joe Ford, their highly-promising 19-year-old fly-half, kicked two early penalties to put his side 6-0 ahead. Little then kicked two penalties for Bath but Ford's third gave Leeds the edge.

However, in the 29th minute the Bath No 8, the former Springbok Luke Watson, set off on a delightful run down the right, showing impressive and nimble footwork before being held up just short of the line. His team responded quickest to the ensuing loose ball and Stephenson arrived to burrow his way over from close range.

Little could not convert from a difficult angle, however, and Ford soon kicked his fourth penalty of the half to make the half-time score 14-12 to Bath.

Five minutes after the restart, Ford kicked his fifth penalty from six attempts to edge Leeds back in front. The match then began to swing in Leeds's favour, going into the final quarter, and they threatened to score what could have been a decisive try. But Bath were back in front with 16 minutes remaining when Leeds were caught offside and Little showed notable poise to kick the resultant penalty. The Fijian kicked a fifth late on.

Leeds are in big trouble but Neil Back, their head coach, said: "Can we stay up? Absol-utely. The guys won't fail through lack of effort."

The closest side to Leeds at the foot of the Premiership are now Worcester, who are five points ahead after their 13-13 draw at Kingsholm yesterday. The lock Dave Attwood scored a try with 16 seconds left to rescue two points for Gloucester, who would have won the match if Carlos Spencer had been able to kick the resultant touchline conversion. Rico Gear and Jonny Arr scored tries for Worcester and Willie Walker kicked a penalty; Akapusi Qera scored Gloucester's first try and Nicky Robinson kicked a penalty.

The Worcester coach, Mike Ruddock, said: "It was heartbreaking to concede a try in the last minute. But in terms of the league, it is about picking up points as often as you can."

After their latest defeat, Leeds know precisely what he means.

Leeds L Hinton; S Armstrong (H Fa'afili, 71), S Rabeni, H Paul, L Blackett; J Ford, A Gomarsall (S Mathie, 60); M Macdonald, R Rawlinson, J Gomez (T McGee, 60), E Lund, M Wentzel (capt), K Myall (C Clark, 55), A To'oala, H Fourie.

Bath J Maddock; M Stephenson, M Carraro, S Hape, M Banahan; N Little, M Claassens (capt); D Flatman (D Barnes, 60), L Mears (P Dixon, 73), D Wilson (D Bell, 68), S Hooper, D Grewcock (P Short, 68), A Beattie, L Watson, J Salvi (B Skirving, 56).

Referee: D Pearson (Northumberland).

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests