Meehan hails Bath 'morale' after crucial win over Leeds

Leeds 15 Bath 20
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The Independent Online

Bath head coach Steve Meehan hailed his side after they ground out a potentially priceless 20-15 victory over Premiership relegation rivals Leeds.

The West Country outfit showed admirable spirit to grind out the win courtesy of five penalties from Nicky Little and a clinical first-half try from Michael Stephenson. It was the perfect way to start 2010 and Meehan felt his players deserved credit.

"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," he said. "It was great to finish last year 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."

There was precious little free-flowing rugby on display but Bath ultimately had the calmness of Little and finishing power of Stephenson to thank for their win. Leeds looked dangerous when on the attack but they could not penetrate the visitors' line and fell behind for the first time in the 29th minute when Bath claimed the only try of the game.

The score stemmed from an outstanding run down the right flank from No 8 Luke Watson, who was held up just short of the line before Stephenson followed up to burrow his way over.

Leeds claimed five penalties from fly-half Joe Ford but are now rated as clear favourites for the drop. They have not won at home in the Premiership all season but head coach Neil Back believes there could be plenty more twists and turns between now and May.

"The guys won't fail through lack of effort, but we're on 14 points and there are still 50 points up for grabs," he said. "While there are still points up for grabs we will maintain our confidence and belief, and why not?"

Scorers: Leeds: Penalties Ford (5); Bath: Try Stephenson Penalties Little (5).

Leeds: Hinton; Armstrong (Fa'afili, 71), Rabeni, Paul, Blackett; Ford, Gomarsall (Mathie, 60); MacDonald, Rawlinson, Gomez (McGee, 60), Lund, Wentzel (capt), Myall (Clark, 55), Fourie, To'oala.

Bath: Maddock; Stephenson, Carraro, Hape, Banahan; Little, Claassens (capt); Flatman (Barnes, 60), Mears (Dixon, 72), Wilson (Bell, 68), Hooper, Grewcock (Short, 68), Beattie, Salvi (Skirving, 56), Watson.

Referee: D Pearson (RFU).