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Page last updated at 15:49 GMT, Saturday, 8 May 2010 16:49 UK

Bath 39-3 Leeds

Bath (17) 39
Tries: Abendanon 2, Claassens, Banahan, Maddock Cons: Barkley 4 Pens: Barkley 2
Leeds (0) 3
Pens: Thomas

Matt Banahan reaches over to score Bath;s third try on Saturday
Banahan scored Bath's third try as they ran Leeds ragged on Sunday

By James Standley

Bath will travel to Leicester in the Premiership semi-finals after they beat Leeds to make it 11 wins in 12 games and wrap up the final play-off place.

The hosts took the lead as Nick Abendanon dummied and sliced over.

Olly Barkley soon added a penalty and then landed his second conversion after Michael Claassens raced over.

A Ceiron Thomas penalty got Leeds on the board but Abendanon and Matt Banahan added further converted tries before Joe Maddock rounded things off.

Bath had a dire first half of the season as they struggled to shake off the effects of a social-drugs scandal at the end of the previous campaign, and lost key men to injury.

They won just one of their first 10 matches to lie one off the bottom of the table but, helped by the return of Butch James and Barkley from long-term injury, they have embarked on a superb run since beating Gloucester on Boxing Day.

Their win over Wasps two weeks ago put them in charge of the race for fourth and the quality of some of their play on Saturday suggests Leicester, who won 43-20 at Welford Road when the two sides met last month, will not have it all their own way on Sunday 16 May.

Leeds have been ferociously committed all season and despite having little to play for after securing their Premiership status in the penultimate round of matches, they were typically forceful in the opening stages.

Bath looked the more fluid with ball in hand but Leeds were making a nuisance of themselves at the line-out and producing some thumping defence, notably from Alfie To'oala.

They kept the home side at arm's length for the opening 15 minutes before a 30-yard rumble from prop David Wilson almost brought about a try for former England second row Danny Grewcock, but the television match official ruled he had failed to get the ball down.

Leeds immediately lost scrum-half Andy Gomarsall, playing his last match for Carnegie, to the sin bin for offside and after a series of attacking scrums Bath moved the ball wide and Abendanon dummied and scythed over on the far side of the pitch.

Olly Barkley was in superb form as Bath shone at The Rec
Barkley was in superb form as Bath shone at The Rec

Barkley converted and soon added a penalty and when Claassens raced over for a converted try from a scrum, scoring in similar style to Abendanon, Bath were on their way to the semi-finals for the third year in a row.

Barkley added a second penalty soon after half-time to make it 20-0, before Leeds fly-half Thomas finally got the visitors on the board with just over half an hour to play with a penalty.

Barkley hit the post with a penalty attempt but the hosts had taken total control of the game and added a quick brace of tries.

First Barkley sent Banahan thundering down the left for their third try, before the giant wing was twice involved as Bath scored a superb try through Abendandon.

Replacement hooker Pieter Dixon fed the full-back 40m out after the hosts had moved the ball back and forwards across the pitch, and Abendanon produced a sublime dummy scissors to fix the defence before scooting over in the corner.

Barkley rediscovered his kicking boots to convert both tries, from either touchline, and at 34-3 it was in danger of turning into a rout.

The hosts took the chance to rest a number of players, including star fly-half James, and they managed only one more try as Maddock, playing his last home game before leaving the club, cruised over to finish off a fine move embellished by a cute reverse-flick pass from Claassens.

This time Barkley could not convert from out wide but Bath had long since confirmed they are bang in form and will travel to Leicester with real hope of upsetting the defending champions.


Bath boss Steve Meehan:
"We have got to relax a bit more than when we went up to Leicester last month.

"We are in better shape than when we were up there last season, and we want to go there and play to our potential.

"Barkley would be a certainty for the tour if I was on England's selection committee."

Leeds director of rugby Andy Key:
"We had achieved our objective (avoiding relegation) weeks ago, but there is still a lot of pride in this team and we recognise it was important to come down here and put up a good performance.

"Unfortunately, that didn't happen, but we did not come here to make the numbers up.

"Bath are a worthy top four team, they are playing a good brand of rugby, and when they get their off-loading game going, it is very impressive."


Bath: Abendanon; Maddock, Hape, Barkley, Banahan; James, Claassens, Flatman, Mears, Wilson, Hooper, Grewcock, Beattie, Salvi, Watson.

Replacements: Carraro for Abendanon (65), Davis for James (62), Catt for Flatman (68), Dixon for Mears (11), Jarvis for Wilson (68), Short for Hooper (52), Skirving for Watson (65).

Not Used: Baxter.

Leeds Carnegie: Goodridge; Welding, Burrell, Rabeni, Blackett; Thomas, Gomarsall; MacDonald, Titterrell, Gomez, Lund, Wentzel, Myall, Oakley, To'oala, Swainston.

Replacements: H Paul for Welding (22), Mathie for Gomarsall (44), Hardy for MacDonald (65), Swainston for Gomez (17), Pendlebury for Oakley (65), Denton for To'oala (52), Moreno for Swainston (80).

Not Used: Ford.

Sin Bin: Gomarsall (18).

Att: 11,700

Ref: Martin Fox (RFU).



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see also
Wasps 19-35 Bath
24 Apr 10 |  English
Leeds 12-10 Worcester
25 Apr 10 |  English


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