Bath 7-64 Leinster: Johnny Sexton delivers a masterclass and Jimmy O’Brien runs in four tries as the Irish side secure a dominant Champions Cup win
- Leinster scored 10 tries in total, with winger Jimmy O’Brien scoring four of them
- Johnny Sexton outclassed his opposite number Orlando Bailey on Saturday
- Leinster have now moved into the knockout stages of the Champions Cup
‘Well done, kid,’ said Leo Cullen, with a hint of irony as he patted his Leinster fly-half on the shoulder in congratulation. Johnny Sexton, at the grand old age of 36, delivered 20-year-old Orlando Bailey a lesson he will never forget as Bath suffered their biggest ever home defeat.
Ireland’s old master showed England’s new apprentice how it’s done. Leinster ran in 10 tries — four from winger Jimmy O’Brien — with a performance that will send shockwaves to their European rivals.
Sexton controlled the attack as sharply as he ever has, leaving Bailey to look up in awe.
Jimmy O’Brien scoring one of his tries for Leinster against Bath on Saturday at The Rec Ground
‘Sexton’s world-class, has a hundred caps and has been one of the best fly-halves of the last 10 or 12 years,’ said Bath coach Neal Hatley. ‘But I think you also saw outstanding glimpses from Orlando as a 20-year-old in a team that has been puttied together around him. He’s a hard-working individual. He’s got to learn from people like Sexton and he will.’
For the first five minutes, Bath gave the impression of a team up to the challenge. They earned four attacking line-outs in Leinster’s 22, yet failed to convert any of them. Their youngsters were repelled and, as they leaked try after try, the scale of the club’s rebuilding job was laid bare.
Missing four front-line looseheads, Bath’s scrum seemed destined for a long afternoon. Launched from a scrummaging platform, O’Brien scored his first try after 16 minutes. Bath lost back-rowers Sam Underhill and Josh Bayliss to early injuries and their replacements were unable to cope with the speed of Leinster’s attack.
Quickly recycling through nine phases, Sexton sent Josh van der Flier flying through for their second try. Jordan Larmour fended off tackles for the third and, after just 32 minutes, Bath were already staring down the barrel of a 14th defeat in 15 games.
Johnny Sexton delivered a brilliant performance as Leinster ran riot in the Champions Cup
‘We’ve worked hard but there’s a gulf in class at the moment,’ said Hatley. ‘Look at the tables and you can see that. They showed what a good side they are when they get opportunities.
‘Sometimes rock bottom is the best foundation. Other clubs have found themselves where we are now. We’re not happy with it. We’ve got to put things in place so that we never find ourselves in this position again.’
All Bath had to show was a standalone try by Max Clarke, captitalising on Charlie Ewels’ interception. After that, Leinster ran in a staggering 45 unanswered points. Bailey showed flashes of his talent, but those around him lost collisions and lost possession.
Robbie Henshaw ran through almost unopposed, before Sexton delicately dabbed the ball through to set up O’Brien’s bonus point score. He provided assist after assist. Positioning his strike runners around the pitch like chess pieces, Sexton popped the ball to Ciaran Frawley for a fifth.
Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw (R) also played his part as Leinster dominated their opponents
Bringing the energy of a Metallica frontman, prop Andrew Porter drove over for the sixth. And with Gabriel Hamer-Webb in the sin-bin, Sexton launched a quick crossfield kick to O’Brien for the seventh. Keenan’s try then took the score to 50 points and Sexton was hauled off in a huff after missing the conversion.
‘He was smiling in the dressing room,’ quipped Cullen. ‘It is phenomenal really at 36-year-old, but age is definitely a number in Johnny’s case. He was gutted about missing out on selection for the Lions but you can see that he is a little bit rejuvenated.’
Leinster lost Max Deegan to a late yellow card but Bath failed to capitalise, with Dan Sheehan and O’Brien rounding off the rout.