Bath Rugby fell to their biggest home defeat of the season as Leicester Tigers romped to a 6-37 victory at the Rec.
Bath started brightly, pinning Leicester into their own half in the opening minutes. After a passage of good build up play lock, Stuart Hooper, seemed to have given the home side an early advantage, powering through the Leicester defence to touch down. Referee Dave Pearson referred the decision to the TMO, which showed the Hooper had lost control of the ball.
The home side continued to play well, attacking hard through the centres, with Duncan Bell joining in the attacks from the wing. The reigning champions tackled strongly though, with both Manu and Alesana Tuilagi putting in some crunching tackles on Bath fullback Nick Abendanon, as he tried to pick gaps in their defence.
With their first foray into the Bath half, Leicester opened the scoring, as, following a Bath infringement at the scrum, Toby Flood secured three points with a successful penalty after 12 minutes of play.
Bath continued to attack, with another fantastic break from Abendanon putting Bell clear through for a dash down the touchline. The stretched defence managed to bundle him into touch but, from the resulting line out, attack soon became defence, as Leicester secured the turnover, and Anthony Allen powered through the centre of the Bath defence to touch down behind the posts. Flood secured the easy conversion, and the visitors were 0-15 up, with just 15 minutes gone.
Not to be deterred, Bath hit back once more, pushing deep into the 22. Ben Skirving charged for the line and, as Leicester rushed up in defence, Ed Slater was judged to have killed the ball, and received a yellow card for his troubles. Butch James stepped up and slotted the easy penalty. 3-10.
Bath seemed to have the run of play, as they had large amounts of possession throughout the first half, but they were just unable to find a way over the try line. The same could not be said for the visitors, who touched down for their second try after 25 minutes, as Ben Youngs burst away from the Bath defence, and, finding Tom Croft on his outside, set the England flanker up for an easy stroll over the line. Flood again converted, stretching the lead to 3-17.
Another wave of Bath attack was quickly nulled by the visiting defence, and Youngs was once again instrumental in extending the lead. Seeing Flood in space on the wing, he drew the defence, popped a pass to the fly-half, who had an easy stroll over the line. Flood was unable to secure the conversion of his own try, so as the two teams went in at half time, the scoreboard read 3-22.
Coming out from the break, Bath once again looked to find a way through the Tigers' line. Flowing passes across the line saw them quickly gain territory and attack the 22. Just under ten minutes into the second half, Tigers were judged to have illegally stopped a promising Bath move, and, opting for the kick at goal, James sealed the penalty. 6-22.
They were to be Bath's last points of the game, as Leicester stood strong to any attempts from the home side to further their score.
Youngs and Flood combined once again for Flood's second try, who popped over the line from short range after strong build up from the Leicester forwards. Whilst he missed the conversion, a penalty soon followed, and the fly-half extended the Tigers lead to 6-30, with 25 minutes left. This was extended further, as Croft fell on a loose ball and sprinted through unchallenged. Flood made no mistake with the conversion. 6-37.
The game had been very physical from the first whistle, and tempers flared deep into the second half. Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe and Horacio Agulla were both shown yellow for their part in what was an all-in show of handbags, and both sides found themselves a man down.
Whilst battling hard, neither side made any further break through, and the game finished 6-37.