McGeechan savours a perfect start after Banahan bashes his way through Leeds

Leeds 16 Bath 32

It might have a new name, as the Aviva Premiership, but the English top- flight season remains a job for a Paula Radcliffe rather than a Usain Bolt. Still, having come close to hitting the wall before the half-way stage in last term's marathon, Bath got off to a flyer at Headingley yesterday, their new captain Luke Watson clinching a bonus point victory with their fourth try of the afternoon.

In doing so, they matched the number of victories they gained before Christmas in their Jekyll and Hyde 2009-10 campaign, which they started with a 24-5 hammering up the road at Gloucester and finished with a play-off semi-final defeat away to Leicester. Their quest to go one – ideally two – better this season opened with a 17-point contribution from a former Tigers fly-half, Sam Vesty plundering a try, three conversions and two penalties on his debut.England captain Lewis Moody was another of the new boys on show for Bath but it was an established wrecking ball from The Rec who did most of the damage to a Leeds side who found themselves shut out until Steve Thompson, making his debut as a second-half sub, claimed a consolation try.

The vistitors lost Olly Barkley to a bruised thumb before kick-off, but shifting Shontayne Hape to inside-centre afforded Steve Meehan's men the opportunity to utilise the battering ram qualities of Matt Banahan from No 13. The first charge by the 6ft 7in wing drew the offside offence that allowed Vesty to kick Bath into the lead.

Ceiron Thomas landed two penalties to give Leeds a 6-3 advantage before Bath broke through in the 35th minute after Banahan took a scissors feed from Vesty and punched a mighty hole in the home guard. Vesty then shipped the ball out right to Nick Abendanon, who cut inside to score. Vesty added the extras but a Thomas drop goal left Bath with just a 10-9 lead at half-time.

Thereafter, the gulf on the pitch was reflected on the scoreboard. Five minutes into the second-half Banahan made another bullocking run and from a scrum Vesty bolted through a gap to touch down. The outside-half converted, and did so again when Matt Carraro crossed and it fell to Watson to secure the bonus-point score.

For Ian McGeechan, back at the ground where he bowled in the nets to another future knight of the realm, Geoffrey Boycott, in his youthful days as a Yorkshire Federation player, it was not quite a cricket score. Still, in his new role as Bath's performance director, it was a more than satisfactory starting display.

Leeds: Try: Thompson; Conversion: Hinton; Penalties: Thomas 2; Drop goal: Thomas.

Bath: Tries: Abendanon, Vesty, Carraro, Watson; Conversions: Vesty 3; Penalties: Vesty 2.

Leeds: M Stephenson; L Blackett (L Hinton, 65), L Burrell, L MacKay, S Tadulala: C Thomas (S Barrow, 52), S Mathie (W Fury, 63); M Alonso (G Hardy, 63), A Titterrell (S Thompson, 49), J Gomez (P Swainston, 53), T Denton, M Wentzel (capt) (R Oakley, 71), K Myall, J Fourie (A To'oala, 55), D Browne.

Bath: N Abendanon (J Cuthbert, 63); M Carraro, M Banahan, T Biggs (M McMillan, 70); S Vesty, M Claassens; D Flatman (N Catt, 55), L Mears (P Dixon, 65), D Wilson (D Bell, 65), S Hooper, D Grewcock (B Skirving, 65), S Taylor, L Moody (A Beattie, 65), L Watson (capt).

Referee: JP Doyle (Dublin).


Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
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

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power