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Page last updated at 16:11 GMT, Saturday, 8 January 2011

Bath 16-13 Leeds

Bath (6) 16
Tries: Abendanon Con: Barkley Pens: Barkley 3
Leeds (6) 13
Tries: Thompson Con: Thomas Pens: Thomas Drop Goal: Barrow


Olly Barkley
Olly Barkley landed three kicks out of four, hitting the post with the other

Olly Barkley kicked 11 of Bath's points as they scraped to a narrow 16-13 win over bottom club Leeds at The Rec.

After going in 6-6 at the break, Bath winger Nick Abendanon ran in a superb try just a minute into the second half.

England hooker Steve Thompson then tied it up at 13-13 on the hour with a try for Leeds, converted by Ceiron Thomas, who also kicked a first-half drop goal.

But Barkley, who had earlier converted Abendanon's try, landed his third penalty to win it with 12 minutes left.

The highlight of the afternoon was Abendanon's spectacular try to earn off-colour Bath's second win in eight days.

Latching onto a cleverly disguised inside pass from fly-half Butch James, he outpaced the cover to touch down as he was caught on the line.

606: DEBATE

Barkley converted to add to his three penalties, before failing with the last of his five kicks when he hit the post two minutes from time.

Home skipper Luke Watson had been struggling with a foot injury all week and pulled out just before kick-off, to be replaced by Ben Skirving.

And it was another patchy performance from Bath, who failed to subdue the Leeds pack as easily as they had overcome London Irish on New Year's Day.

But it was a frustrating afternoon for the Premiership's bottom side after breaking their Premiership duck last weekend against Gloucester.

They arrived with an unchanged starting line-up including Michael Stephenson and number eight Daniel Browne, both released by Bath last summer.

And they had plenty of possession and territory, overcoming the loss of scrum-half Warren Fury to the sin-bin in the first half to even lead 6-3 at one stage, when full-back Thomas's penalty was followed by Scott Barrow's drop goal six minutes from half-time - fair reward for the bottom club's spirit and competitiveness at the breakdown.

Hendre Fourie sent out a very positive message to the England selectors about what a dangerous player he is. He contributed massively. He was immense today, unbelievable

Leeds director of rugby Andy Key

But the lead lasted only six minutes, as Barkley landed a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

And, within 60 seconds of the resumption, Bath shrugged off the mid-winter blues with Abendanon's classy score.

Leeds could have gone further behind but Bath failed to finish off spectacular long-range breaks, first by Ben Skirving and then Jack Cuthbert.

Instead they found themselves back on the defensive and a knock-on by Cuthbert allowed Leeds to set up camp in the corner and Thompson eventually peeled off a maul to score.

Replacement Alfie To'oala nearly created a second five minutes later but the cover closed in on Luther Burrell just in time.

Instead, it was Bath who regained the lead, Barkley booting what proved the matchwinner.


Bath coach Steve Meehan said:

"I'd rather win ugly than lose ugly. We made life difficult for ourselves. We had three very obvious opportunities to clear our lines after defending very well. But we didn't take any of them.

"We allowed Leeds to come back and put pressure on us and they ended up levelling. Then we had to fight back over those last 15 minutes.

"We're now away from this competition for five weeks and a lot can happen in that time, not just at Bath but everywhere, but it is terrific to start the New Year with two out of two.

"The teams just above us will start to take notice. They know we've got a couple of games in hand. We're in a good position, if we can keep sneaking up on people."

Leeds director of rugby Andy Key said:

"We thought we had done enough to come away with a win.

"If we replicate the performance today in the next 11 games we will avoid relegation, definitely.

"We're only going to see better performances from this side. We've left it a bit late but it's about looking forward, not back."


Bath: Cuthbert; Banahan, Barkley, Hape, Abendanon; James, Claassens, Barnes, Mears, Wilson, Hooper, Grewcock, Skirving, Moody, Taylor.

Replacements: Bell for Barnes (51), Dixon for Mears (60), Fernandez Lobbe for Grewcock (51).

Leeds: Thomas, Blackett, Fa'afili, S Barrow, Stephenson, MacKay, Fury, Hardy, Thompson, Swainston, T Denton, Wentzel, Oakley, Fourie, Browne.

Replacements: Burrell for Stephenson (60), Hinton for MacKay (28), Mathie for Fury (54), MacDonald for Hardy (51), Nilsen for Thompson (74), Denman for Swainston (60), To'oala for Oakley (60), Myall for Browne (51).

Att: 10,800.

Ref: JP Doyle (RFU).



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see also
Guscott's predictions
09 Jan 11 |  English
Claassens commits future to Bath
05 Jan 11 |  Bath
Denton future England star - Back
07 Jan 11 |  Leeds
London Irish 24-25 Bath
01 Jan 11 |  English
Leeds 15-13 Gloucester
01 Jan 11 |  English


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Rugby Rugby Brave Leeds oh so close - again - 10 hrs ago
Observer Nick Abendanon scores a magnificent try to help Bath sneak victory - 10 hrs ago
Yahoo! UK and Ireland Eurosport Round-up: Leicester extend lead - 12 hrs ago
Guardian.co.uk Bath 16-13 Leeds | Aviva Premiership match report - 20 hrs ago
Sky Sports Bath hold off Leeds - 22 hrs ago


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