Madigan kicks Leinster into Champions Cup Semi

Leinster’s Ian Madigan kicked six penalties to earn an 18-12 victory over Bath and keep his team on track for a fourth European title.

Bath scored the only tries of the match but Madigan’s six penalties proved to be enough to beat the English Premiership side.

Ian Madigan’s superb kicking display with 18 points saw three-time champions Leinster edge a vibrant Bath side who played most of the rugby but were undone at the breakdown.

But for Madigan the hosts would have been in serious trouble as Bath scored two superb tries, England fly-half George Ford scoring the first and then his break and offload setting up the second for Stuart Hooper.

However, the visitors had only themselves to blame with 16 handling errors and conceding 12 penalties, including one in the dying seconds when inside the hosts’ 22.

Leinster, a shadow in attacking play of the one that brought them their three titles, will be away in their semi-final against the winner of Sunday’s match between defending champions Toulon and two-time winners Wasps.

“This win means everything to us,” Madigan told BT Sport.

“Our season rode on this game. Bath are a really good side with internationals littered through it.

“We’ve proved we’re a knockout side over the past 10 years,” added the 26-year-old.

Bath scored the only try of the first-half, Ford bursting through a gap between Devin Toner and Jordi Murphy and running in from outside the Leinster 22. However the England fly-half was unable to convert, the ball coming back off a post.

Leinster, though, finished the first-half in command as five excellently executed penalties by Madigan saw them go in 15-5 up, the host team’s cause helped by a yellow card for Anthony Watson for taking out Rob Kearney in midair.

However, despite early Leinster pressure it was Ford who engineered the visitors’ second try as he once again worked his way through a gap between the lumbering Toner and Cian Healy.

He was unable to get to the tryline but produced a glorious offload to captain Hooper, who touched down for a try Ford converted to leave the English side just three points adrift at 15-12.

Madigan, though, punished Bath indiscipline once again in the 52nd minute, striking a superb penalty for 18-12.

Bath sent on former Ireland and Munster scrum-half Peter Stringer for his 100th appearance in the competition — only the fourth player, all of them Irish, to have reached the landmark — with 15 minutes remaining to see if his experience could prove the difference but it was not to be.

Final Score Leinster 18 (15) Bath 12 (5)

Scorers

Leinster
Tries –
Pen – Madigan 6
Con –
Drop –
Cards –

Bath
Tries – Ford, Hooper
Pen – Ford
Con – Ford
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Jerome Garces (France),
Assistant ref: Christophe Berdos (France),
Assistant ref: Patrick Pechambert (France),
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France),
Citing Commissioner: Yves Thieffine (France)

Teams

Leinster

Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Ben Te’o, Ian Madigan, Luke Fitzgerald; Jimmy Gopperth, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy, Jordi Murphy, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip (c)
Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Tom Denton, Dominic Ryan, Eoin Reddan, Gordon D’Arcy, Zane Kirchner

Bath

Anthony Watson; Horacio Agulla, Jonathan Joseph, Kyle Eastmond, Matt Banahan; George Ford, Micky Young; Paul James, Rob Webber, Kane Palma Newport, Stuart Hooper (c), David Attwood, Carl Fearns, Francois Louw, Leroy Houston

Replacements: Ross Batty, Nick Auterac, Max Lahiff, Matt Garvey, Alafoti Fa’osiliva, Peter Stringer, Sam Burgess , Tom Homer

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