Classy George Ford boots Bath to win over Leinster
Published 21/11/2015 | 19:06
England star George Ford admitted it was a case of "focus on the process" as he kicked Bath to a European Champions Cup victory over Leinster.
Fly-half Ford sent an early reminder to new England head coach Eddie Jones of his quality by booting 14 points - three penalties, a conversion and a drop-goal - as Bath also collected a second-half penalty try to edge out Recreation Ground visitors Leinster 19-16.
His 76th-minute penalty proved the clincher, and Ford said: "You understand what type of kick it is to take a lead with a few minutes to go.
"But you just focus on the process. You are in your own little bubble as a goal-kicker, you try and block everything out and just hit the ball like you do hundreds of time in training.
"We didn't score many tries today, but we were positive in the way we went about things."
Ford's father, Bath head coach Mike Ford, was relieved to claim Saturday's win as the west country club avenged last season's Champions Cup quarter-final defeat against Leinster.
"We showed our inexperience at 16-9 up," Ford said.
"We were in control of the game, but we stupidly did things that let them back in. We then got to 19-16 and we did it again, but luckily Stuart (Hooper) nicked that last lineout for us.
"I am pleased we won against a Leinster side full of internationals. Our scrum was awesome - Henry Thomas and Nick Auterac were outstanding - but we can't afford to give teams easy outs and chances to score points like we did today.
"We got lucky today in terms of the end of the game when Stuart won that lineout.
"They (Leinster) are always dangerous when they have got Johnny Sexton kicking his goals.
"I said at half-time we needed to be more patient. We lost the ball too many times when we had good attacking positions through not being patient. If we had played Toulon today, we probably lose."
Ford, meanwhile, paid tribute to Bath and England centre Kyle Eastmond, who missed out on World Cup selection but showed his quality through a strong attacking display.
"We love the way Kyle plays," Ford added. "He played very ambitiously today, and he is vital for the way we want to play. We are really pleased where he is at the moment.
"He was disappointed (in terms of the World Cup), but he is in talks to sign a new three-year deal with us, so he is not going anywhere."
Leinster, crushed 33-6 at home by Pool Five opponents Wasps last Sunday, have now lost their opening two games of a European campaign for the first time since 1996.
And with Champions Cup holders Toulon also in the toughest group of this season's tournament, Leinster are already struggling to progress. Ireland star Johnny Sexton kicked 11 points, including the conversion of substitute back-row forward Josh van der Flier's late try, but Bath had done enough.
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen said: "There was a bit of flak after last weekend, but we certainly got a better performance today. They showed a good bit of steel and desire, the way they fought back into the game.
"After getting back to 16-16, I thought we looked the stronger team at that stage.
"People need to stay patient with us. There were a lot of good things out there, but unfortunately, we didn't get the result.
"It is going to be tough. We just need to park Europe for the next couple of weeks, and try to get a bit more confidence in the PRO12."