Connolly reins in Bath's party preparations
Leinster 19 Bath 22
Monday 24 October 2005
Little wonder then, that with a victory over Leinster to celebrate, a grinning Bath head coach John Connolly announced: "I'll put the ankle bracelets on them tonight to make sure they don't go astray."
It is doubtful, however, that they would have had the energy to party after what they went through on the Royal Dublin Showground on Saturday. They had a tough enough time trying to free themselves from the shackles clamped on them by Leinster.
Bath lost both matches against Leinster in last year's European Cup, and they looked to be well on the way to an unenviable hat-trick by the interval. But revenge is not always a dish best served cold. Some like it hot. Bath clearly do, because they contributed to a fiery second half, with a far more positive attitude than they had shown in the opening 40 minutes, when a passionate Leinster side had outplayed and out-thought the West Countrymen. The hosts rediscovered their desire right at the end to create a finale that crackled with tension. Leinster flung everything at Bath as the minutes ticked down. But to their credit, Bath threw it all back at them - kitchen sink, taps, plug and all.
They had the stamina to survive those last desperate minutes. For all the attacks that Leinster launched, they just did not seem to have enough left in their legs to get around Bath's gritty defence, hence the relief in the visitors' camp, especially after their poor start.
Connolly clearly felt that this win was an achievement in itself, and it prompted him to dwell on the possibility of Bath reaching the knock-out stages of the competition. "It will be tough for us, but we will cause teams problems. The key is to win your pool and try to get a quarter-final at home."
On this evidence Bath will give teams cause for hope if they reproduce their first-half performance. The Irish peppered them with high balls, and time and again Bath justified the tactic by bungling the take.
The Premiership side were also guilty of indiscipline, and worst of all, apart from the occasions they were caught offside and committed myriad other technical infringements, they could not resist talking back to the referee, Nigel Whitehouse, from Wales. It was the wrong sort of talking to do on the pitch. And they were punished for it.
In the opening exchanges they were surprisingly flabby in attack, never truly threatening the Leinster line, and instead relying on the boot of Olly Barkley to keep them in the game at the interval. Leinster had real penetration out wide; all they lacked was the killer finish. The rookie winger Robert Kearney looks a real prospect: strong under the high ball, quick-witted, quick-footed and with a good pass, he will trouble defences at the very highest level before long.
The Leinster No 8, Jamie Heaslip, a callow 21-year-old, also looked special. In the dying minutes of the game, he was a real handful, bursting out of his own half at one point dangerously quickly and getting far too close to the Bath line for their liking.
Bath were also fortunate to catch Leinster without their Ireland internationals Brian O'Driscoll and Denis Hickie, and the former England prop Will Green; the latter forced to pull out on the morning of the match suffering from a chest infection. That trio could have made a mighty difference to the outcome.
Leinster: Try Contepomi; Conversion Contepomi; Penalties Contepomi 3; Drop goal Contepomi. Bath: Try Beattie; Conversion Barkley; Penalties Barkley 4; Drop goal Malone.
Leinster: G Dempsey; K Lewis, G D'Arcy, S Horgan, R Kearney (J Hepworth, 73); F Contepomi (capt), B O'Riordan (B O'Meara, 58); R Corrigan, B Blaney (B Jackman, 58), E Byrne, B Gissing (M O'Kelly, 58), B Williams, C Potts, K Gleeson, J Heaslip.
Bath: L Best; D Bory (S Finau, 77), T Cheeseman, O Barkley, F Welsh; C Malone, M Wood; M Stevens, L Mears (P Dixon, 75), D Bell, S Borthwick (capt), D Grewcock, A Beattie, J Scaysbrook, I Feaunati (G Delve, 75).
Referee: N Whitehouse (Wales).
As anti-Semitic attacks rise, Grant Feller re-evaluates his identity
Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again
...and it wasn't caused by an asteroid crash, as first thought
Savoury patisserie is a thing now
Meet the primary school where every day is National Poetry Day
Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood
Arsene Wenger 18th anniversary at Arsenal: His WORST signings XI during his time with the Gunners
Arsene Wenger's worst signings XI
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Nani: On loan Sporting Lisbon winger admits he may not return to Manchester United
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
- 3 35,000 walrus gather on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 4 Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Former Tory donor Arron Banks ups his Ukip donation to £1million following William Hague 'nobody' comment
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so