Bullish Key confident Leeds Carnegie will stave off the drop

Director of rugby Andy Key remains steadfastly upbeat about Leeds Carnegie's prospects of avoiding relegation, despite their away-day loss at The Rec.

Carnegie's three-match winning streak came to an end in the West Country, although they did manage to garner a bonus point for their efforts, although Key insists they could have been celebrating a win on another day.

He said: "We thought we had done enough in this game to come away with a win.

"If we replicate the performance today in the next 11 games, we will avoid relegation, definitely. We're only going to see better performances from this side. We've left it a bit late, but it's about looking forward, not back."

And Key admitted he was particularly delighted with the performance of stellar flanker Hendre Fourie against England skipper Lewis Moody, adding: "He sent out a very positive message to the England selectors about what a dangerous player he is. He contributed massively – he was immense, unbelievable."

A spectacular Nick Abendanon try straight after half-time helped earn off-colour Bath their second win in eight days against Carnegie, who showed their spirit throughout

Abendanon latched onto a cleverly disguised inside pass from fly-half Butch James and outpaced the cover, rolling over to touch down as he was caught on the line. Olly Barkley converted and added three penalties.

Otherwise, however, it was another patchy performance from Bath, who failed to subdue the Leeds pack as easily as they had overcome London Irish on New Year's Day.

Leeds had plenty of possession and territory and overcame the loss of scrum-half Warren Fury to the sin-bin in the first half to lead 6-3 at one stage.

Barkley drew first blood for Bath, kicking a 10th-minute penalty from 40 metres.

But Leeds battled hard and on 25 minutes, Leeds' persistence - and Bath infringements - earned Ceiron Thomas the chance to level the scores from 30 metres.

Fury was then yellow-carded for killing the ball, leaving his team-mates to defend desperately as prop David Barnes was cut down under the posts.

It looked grim for the 14 men of Leeds when Lachlan MacKay was then forced off with an injury, but Bath continued to spurn opportunities.

Just before Fury returned from the sin-bin, Barrow put his side ahead with a drop-goal, but the lead lasted only six minutes as Barkley landed a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Within 60 seconds of the resumption, Bath shrugged off the mid-winter blues with Abendanon's classy score.

Leeds could quickly have gone further behind but Bath failed to finish off spectacular breaks, first by Ben Skirving and then by Jack Cuthbert.

Instead, they found themselves back on the defensive and a knock-on by Cuthbert allowed Leeds to set up camp in the corner and Steve Thompson eventually peeled off a maul to score.

Thomas added the conversion to bring the sides level at 13-13. Alfie To'oala nearly created a second five minutes later, but the cover closed in on Luther Burrell just in time.

Instead it was Bath who regained the lead through the boot of Barkley on 68 minutes. While Abendanon whirled and wheeled in search of an opening, James and Barkley pragmatically kicked into the corners.

The effort had clearly drained Leeds and their scrum was shunted back and went to ground, conceding a penalty, but Barkley's kick fell short.

BATH: Cuthbert; Banahan, Barkley, Hape, Abendanon; James, Claassens; Barnes, Mears, Wilson; Hooper, Grewcock; Watson, Moody, Taylor. Replacements: Dixon, Bell, Jarvis, Fernandez Lobbe, Skirving, Cook, Vesty, Carraro.

LEEDS CARNEGIE: Thomas; Blackett, Fa'afili, Barrow, Stephenson; MacKay, Fury; Hardy, Thompson, Swainston; Denton, Wentzel, Oakley, Fourie, Browne. Replacements: Nilsen, MacDonald, Denman, Myall, To'oala, Mathie, Burrell, Hinton.

REFEREE: JP Doyle (RFU).

ATTENDANCE: 10,800.

Mitch Garbutt presses forward

Leeds Rhinos: Mac concedes Leeds won’t finish top after Tigers loss