Leinster send message to all of Europe with another thumping victory
BATH 7-64 LEINSTER
Bath put up a fight, but Leinster still blew them away. With Johnny Sexton pulling the strings and the back row of Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan running amok, it was a beat-down.
Leinster knew they needed to secure another big win if they were to get a high seeding for the Last 16. Bath, playing for pride, scrapped away at The Rec but were clearly second best.
The four-time champions were denied an early Jimmy O'Brien try but they kept knocking on the door and the winger was soon on the scoreboard, over in the corner. Van der Flier cut the Bath defence to ribbons with a lovely line, and carry, that made it 12-0.
A scorcher of a try from Jordan Larmour [below] looked to have wrapped up the victory, but Bath showed a bit of fight when Andrew Porter had a pass to Sexton that was intercepted for an eventual try.
Jordan Larmour in electric form⚡️⚡️⚡️ pic.twitter.com/nINqWiIPuQ
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) January 22, 2022
Jimmy O'Brien bags hat-trick for Leinster
The Leinster response was swift as O'Brien scored again after a Sexton grubber kick. Before the half ended, Ciarán Frawley - briefly on for Larmour - barrelled over and it was 33-7.
In the second half, Porter powered over for Leinster's sixth try, after 44 minutes. Four minutes later and O'Brien had a hat-trick for his troubles.
Bath were done and dusted by the then. It was just a matter of how big the winning scoreline would be, and Hugo Keenan stretched it further, on 51 minutes, when he raced over to dot down.
Bath tried desperately to get another try but strong Leinster defence and a great O'Brien tackle, out wide, denied them. The visitors headed down the far end of the pitch and replacement hooker Dan Sheehan streaked clear to get yet another Leinster try.
The man of the match award went to O'Brien. He had some competition for the accolade, but bagging his fourth try in the closing stages certainly sealed it.
Before the match, former Leinster and Ireland No.8 Jamie Heaslip had set the scene for Caelan Doris - his "man crush" - when he talked up the back row.
"If I was to pick a world 15 right now, he would be in my back row.
"I think he is one of the most balanced back rows in the northern hemisphere, if not the world."
— Channel 4 Sport (@C4Sport) January 22, 2022
Heaslip also heaped praise on Jack Conan, the man that looks to have settled into the No.8 jersey for province and country now, for taking his starting opportunities with both hands when they cropped up.
The likes of Siya Kolisi, Michael Hooper, Pieter Steph du Toit and Tom Curry would all be in the mix for the back row in a World XV, but so would Caelan Doris.
Our Man of the Match: Jimmy O'Brien (Leinster)