Meehan keen to move on and upwards
Bath 16 Leeds Carnegie 13
Monday 10 January 2011
Bath may be way off the Premiership pace but Steve Meehan, their head coach, has not given up hopes of another outstanding end to the season. Last year's beaten semi-finalists were far from impressive on Saturday afternoon but Meehan spotted plenty of positives in an outwardly frustrating performance.
While much of the 10,800-strong crowd here would not have seen far past the narrow margin of victory and an error-ridden outing, Meehan rightfully delved deeper into proceedings to reveal a far healthier analysis.
No, the victory was not pretty, admitted the Australian. No, it didn't hit the heights he and his squad reached at the back end of last year, but – and this is the important part – it wasn't far short on both fronts.
"There's no doubt we made heavy weather of it," said Meehan, whose men won 12 of their final 13 Premiership fixtures en route to a top-four spot last term. "But I was really, really pleased with some of the attacking endeavour; there were times when we put together some moves that were as good as any over the last few years.
"I'm delighted with the way the forwards are going as well. It's getting better and better. We don't come back to the Premiership for five weeks and a lot can happen in that time, but the teams just above us will start to take notice. They know we've got a couple of games in hand and we're in a good position if we can just keep sneaking up on people."
Nick Abendanon provided the game's magical moment less than a minute into the second period. The mercurial full-back, employed on the left wing, took a rather telegraphed inside ball 30 metres out but still managed to fire his way past two defenders for the first try of the game.
It was a score built on fleet of foot but backed up by physical strength – an attribute not normally associated with the England international – as Abendanon held off two despairing tackles to give Bath a dream start to the second period.
At that point, the home faithful hoped the floodgates would open. That they remained locked was largely due to the defensive qualities of a Leeds team who fought tooth and nail, desperate to build on last weekend's first Premiership victory over Gloucester.
The visitors even levelled affairs when Steve Thompson barged over from the back of a driven line-out, but an Olly Barkley penalty, with 12 minutes remaining, spared Bath's blushes.
Bath: Try: Abendanon; Conversion Barkley; Penalties Barkley 3. Leeds: Try Thompson; Conversion Thomas; Penalty Thomas; Drop goal Barrow.
Bath J Cuthbert; M Banahan, O Barkley, S Hape, N Abendanon; B James, M Claassens (capt); D Barnes (D Bell, 51), L Mears (P Dixon, 60), D Wilson, S Hooper, D Grewcock (I Fernandez Lobbe, 51), B Skirving, L Moody, S Taylor.
Leeds Carnegie C Thomas; L Blackett, H Fa'afili, S Barrow, M Stephenson (L Burrell, 60); L MacKay (L Hinton, 28), W Fury (S Mathie, 54); G Hardy (M MacDonald, 51), S Thompson (P Nilsen 74), P Swainston (G Denman, 60), T Denton, M Wentzel (capt), R Oakley (A To'oala 60), H Fourie, D Browne (K Myall, 51).
Referee J P Doyle (RFU).
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