Bath ground out a 19-16 Champions Cup triumph over Leinster on Saturday, while there were also wins for Leicester, Northampton, Toulouse and Racing.
With the match in the balance at 16-16, Ireland flyhalf Johnny Sexton missed a penalty which would have put Leinster in front. Moments later, in the 77th minute, England flyhalf George Ford nailed his opportunity to secure the result for Bath.
Despite Bath’s bright start, Sexton opened the scoring with a penalty, but a penalty and a drop goal each by Ford saw the hosts head into the interval 6-3 up.
The pivot kicking duel continued at the restart as Ford slotted another penalty to extend his side’s lead, before Sexton knocked over two further kicks to draw Leinster level.
From a scrum penalty, Bath turned down the points on offer and set a lineout. They drove towards the line, but Leinster sacked the maul and conceded a penalty which Ford converted. Unflustered, Leinster responded with a try of their own when replacement flank Josh van der Flier powered over for a converted effort.
But, when Sexton could have put his team ahead, he missed while Ford didn’t. Leinster, three-time European champions, are now in danger of being knocked out of the tournament.
Earlier in the day, the Leicester Tigers hammered hosts Benetton Treviso 36-3. The Tigers ran in three first-half tries to seize control. Tonga wing Telusa Veainu scored the all-important fourth try in the second half when Treviso were reduced to 14 men. Hooker Greg Bateman rounded off the match with the Tigers’ fifth try.
Meanwhile, Toulouse scored three tries to beat Oyonnax 24-18. Oyonnax led 6-3 at the break, but Toulouse got into their stride thereafter to kickstart their European campaign, despite Oyonnax’s spirited efforts.
The Northampton Saints clinched a 26-15 away win over the Glasgow Warriors, but like Toulouse, the winners failed to pick up a bonus point. A brace by Ahsee Tuala and one from George Pisi, were enough to give the Saints a second successive win. Scotland duo Peter Horne and Josh Strauss scored the Warriors’ two tries.
Elsewhere, Racing recorded a deserved 29-12 bonus-point win against the Llanelli Scarlets, despite having Bernard le Roux sent off for stamping. Racing were dominant throughout and sprinted to a 26-0 half-time lead courtesy of tries by Maxime Machenaud, Joe Rokocoko, Chris Masoe and Marc Andreu.
Bath (19) – Try: Penalty try. Conversion: George Ford. Penalties: Ford (2). Drop goal: Ford.
Leinster (16) – Try: Josh van der Flier. Conversion: Johnny Sexton. Penalties: Sexton (3).
Treviso (3) – Penalty: James Ambrosini.
Leicester Tigers (36) – Tries: Penalty try, Telusa Veainu (2), Peter Betham, Greg Bateman. Conversions: Tommy Bell (3), Seremaia Bai. Penalty: Bell.
Toulouse (24) – Tries: Timoci Matanavou, Maxime Médard, Gäel Fickou. Conversions: Luke McAlister (3). Penalty: McAlister.
Oyonnax (18) – Tries: Vincent Martin, Fabien Cibray. Conversions: Nicky Robinson. Penalties: Regis Lespinas (2).
Glasgow Warriors (15) – Tries: Peter Horne, Josh Strauss. Conversions: Finn Russell. Penalty: Russell.
Northampton Saints (26) – Tries: George Pisi, Ahsee Tuala (2). Conversions: Stephen Myler. Penalties: Myler (3).
Scarlets (12) – Tries: Aled Thomas, Lewis Rawlins. Conversion: Thomas.
Racing (29) – Tries: Maxime Machenaud, Joe Rokocoko, Chris Masoe, Marc Andreu. Conversions: Machenaud (3). Penalty: Johan Goosen.
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images