3 years ago
29 January 2010, 10:19am
Bath's hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the LV= Cup were ended after they went down to an experienced Leicester side at Welford Road.
Bath, fielding a much-changed side from their previous match against Ulster, matched the Tigers for long periods of the Anglo-Welsh Cup contest.
But they were ultimately beaten by a Tigers side boasting seven full internationals and roared on by a crowd of more than 19,000.
Bath were just about in contention at 15-6 down with five minutes to go - but a late burst of drama saw Leicester score two tries and Bath grab one in a frantic finale.
Jonny Fa'amatuainu raced 30 metres after making the most of a poor Leicester kick - but his score could not change the course of the game as the hosts had moved 22-6 in front minutes earlier thanks to Billy Twelvetrees' second try of the evening.
Head coach Steve Meehan, despite suffering defeat, was pleased with the performances of some of his younger players, including lock Scott Hobson and flanker Josh Ovens.
"I was very happy with the first half," said Meehan, whose side were unfortunate to trail 8-3 at the break. "And if you go through the whole match, I was particularly happy with the way the younger fellas came on and did a good job.
"I think Scott Hobson and Josh Ovens, in particular, did well. I thought Scott Hobson was certainly our man of the match."
Bath had opened the scoring with an 18th-minute penalty when a Leicester defender was penalised for not rolling away from a tackle. Ryan Davis kicked his side into a deserved 3-0 lead.
Bath had seen Sam Vesty hit the post with an earlier penalty - but it was the visiting side who looked the more lively during the opening exchanges.
Peter Short charged down Aaron Mauger's attempted clearance, only for the alert Alesana Tuilagi to win the race to the line to deny Bath an early try.
Bath continued to create decent chances - but they were made to pay when Davis missed a penalty, awarded following a Bath scrum.
Bath should have enjoyed a 6-0 lead - but it was soon 3-3 after Vesty nailed a 45-metre penalty following an offside decision to put his side on level terms.
Bath were seconds from reaching half-time with the score level - but a moment of Leicester inspiration denied them. The Tigers' back-line - which included Tuilagi, Twelvetrees, Mauger, Vesty and Harry Ellis - lived up to its star billing by conjuring an impressive try.
Tuilagi broke clear and passed to Lucas Amorosino, who released Mauger to send a clever chip over the top of the Bath defence. Twelvetrees read the play and arrived in time to gather to kick and dive over the line.
Vesty, as he had from an earlier penalty, hit the upright with his conversion attempt and Leicester held a five-point lead at the interval.
Bath cut that advantage to two points within four minutes of the restart, Davis kicking his second penalty of the evening after referee David Rose spotted Leicester hands in a ruck.
But Bath were soon under pressure, with Nicky Little penalised for a high tackle on Argentina full-back Amorosino as Leicester's confidence began to grow.
Although Bath defended the initial danger, they were unfortunate to concede a penalty try when Rose deemed them to have a collapsed a scrum close to their own line. "The scrum was going sidways," argued Meehan.
Vesty, as expected, landed the conversion to send Leicester into a nine-point lead at 15-6 - and there was little hint at that stage of the explosive finish that was to come.
Twelvetrees extended his side's lead - and effectively sealed the victory - with a solo run in the 75th minute after a scrummage deep in Bath territory.
Bath roared back almost from the restart. Fa'amatuainu was the recipient of a poor Leicester kick - and showed the pace of a winger to race down the line and score his side's only try of the evening.
That made the score 22-11 - but Leicester pulled clear again in injury-time when Tuilagi collected a loose ball deep inside his own half and ran 50 metres to grab a bonus point for the 2007 Anglo-Welsh Cup winners.
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