Six penalties from Irish flyhalf Jonathan Sexton were enough to give champions Leinster an 18-13 victory away at Bath in their European Cup Pool 3 match on Sunday.
Victory saw Leinster — who have lost just two of their past 19 European Cup matches — top the table after three matches and looking forward to the visit of Bath at Lansdowne Road where they have already sold more than 40,000 tickets.
Leinster coach Joe Schmidt welcomed the win, but was far from happy with the number of try-scoring chances his team let slip.
“The frustration was that we couldn’t get the ball over their line. We appeared to have a couple of gilt-edged chances,” Schmidt said. “We want to be a lot more accurate to make sure we finish opportunities that we create, but I am delighted with the result.
“Against a quality team it’s hard to create opportunities and the last thing you want to do is butcher them like we did today. We almost suffocated ourselves at times,” Schmidt said.
Glasgow are in second, three points behind the Irish side after they edged a second-string Montpellier side 20-15 in an ill-tempered affair that saw three players sin-binned.
Four penalties from Glasgow’s highly thought of 20-year-old flyhalf Duncan Weir provided the hosts with the backbone of their victory.
CLERMONT VS LEICESTER
The day’s other match was another bad-tempered affair between French giants Clermont and two-time champions Leicester, with the English side going down to a 30-12 hammering.
French 23-year-old center Wesley Fofana — tipped to make a breakthrough into the national side — scored a brace of tries.
They had caught the hosts cold early on with a try by Ben Youngs, but the game was already going away from them when two of their players, fiery English international center Manu Tuilagi — only making his return after fracturing a cheekbone — and prop George Chuter were yellow-carded in the 50th minute.
The foul mood lasted to the end as France backrow star Julien Bonnaire was yellow-carded by Irish referee Alain Rolland for a fistfight with Youngs.
Bath took an early lead against Leinster when Olly Barkley broke the deadlock with a crisply struck penalty to break Jonathan Callard’s European Cup points record for the English club and added another to make it 6-0.
Sexton — man of the match in last season’s come-from-behind final win over Northampton — missed his first attempt at goal, but converted one in stoppage-time of the first half.
Leinster came out with a bang in the second half and Sean O’Brien went on a rampaging run deep inside the 22m line, breaking several tackles before being stopped just short, but while the Irish side failed to come away with a try, Sexton was inch perfect with a penalty to draw them level.
However, the visitors’ exhilarating attacking play was not matched by their finishing as shortly afterward a superb kick and collect by Isa Nacewa set them up brilliantly, but O’Brien somehow fouled things up when he had a three to one overlap.
TAKING THE LEAD
Sexton, though, made no such mistake to finally give them the lead in the 55th minute with another penalty and landed another on the hour mark after a scintillating break by Nacewa had set it up, before Bath hit back in style.
Leinster turned the ball over and the hosts took full advantage as they set up Matt Banahan for his 50th try for the club — Barkley converted to put them 13-12 ahead.
Sexton, though, gave Leinster the advantage once again with eight minutes remaining after an infringement by Francois Louw, who had been instrumental in forcing the Leinster turnover which led to the try, and the latter muddied his copybook further two minutes later when he was sin-binned.
Sexton added a penalty on the final whistle to round off a satisfying day’s work.
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