LEINSTER 18 BATH 15
Ian Madigan booted Bath out of Europe as they made an agonising Champions Cup quarter-final exit in Dublin, despite scoring both tries of an absorbing Aviva Stadium encounter.
Leinster centre Madigan’s six successful penalties condemned Bath to an 18-15 defeat, although the visitors claimed touchdowns by England fly-half George Ford and captain Stuart Hooper.
Ford, back at the Aviva Stadium just five weeks after being part of an England team beaten during Ireland’s march to the RBS 6 Nations title, scored a brilliant solo try and also made a break that ended with Hooper breaching Leinster’s defence.
But Bath gave Madigan too many chances to punish them and he delivered a 100 per cent success-rate to book Leinster a semi-final appointment with either Toulon or Wasps, who meet on the Mediterranean coast on Sunday.
Bath pushed Leinster to the limit - Ford also converted his own try and kicked a late penalty - yet they were ultimately edged out on an afternoon when Madigan’s accuracy made the difference.
The visitors threw everything at their hosts as the clock ticked down, but it was not to be, with Leinster doing just enough to remain in pursuit of silverware.
Bath, bidding to reach a first top-flight European semi-final for nine years, were buoyed by returning England quartet Ford, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph and Dave Attwood, with fit-again Wales prop Paul James also starting, but rugby league recruit Sam Burgess was on the bench.
Leinster welcomed back all of their Ireland Six Nations stars, including Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien and Rob Kearney, as they looked to take another step towards a possible fourth European crown in the last seven seasons.