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Bath Rugby edge out Tigers

In an incredibly close encounter, Bath emerged victorious after tries from Dave Attwood and Matt Carraro and eight points apiece from Sam Vesty and Tom Heathcote – final score Bath Rugby 26 Leicester Tigers 25.

With the blazing sun beaming down over the Recreation Ground, Bath Rugby welcomed old rivals Leicester Tigers in an eagerly awaited fixture. Bath asserted their physicality in the opening minutes of the game forcing Leicester to concede two early penalties; the first fly-half Vesty struck just wide of the posts but the second found it's target and Bath had the early lead. 3-0. 

Unfortunately for Vesty he was also involved with the next score, a Leicester try. A well taken lineout found Vesty, who looking to find a runner fed the ball to his opposite number, Jeremy Staunton, who intercepted to score under the posts and then converted his own try. 3-7.

The home side's deficit was reduced to one point after another solid Bath scrum forced the Tigers to collapse under the pressure, and Vesty provided the three points. 6-7.

A near instant turn around of fortunes followed as Bath were penalised from the kick-off for not releasing, allowing Staunton to return his sides advantage to four. 6-10.

A period of sustained attack from the visitors seemed to be being dealt with well by the Bath players, however, a moment of over excitement at the contact led to Bath being penalised for entering the ruck in the side and Staunton slotted three more points. 6-13.

Another Leicester attack led to another penalty soon after, with Staunton taking the Tigers tally to 16, compared to Bath's six.

On the stroke of half time, Bath fought back and secured their first try of this fiercely contested rivalry. A James Grindal clearance found a waiting Tom Biggs, who sensed the gap, turned on the gas and blitzed through the Tigers defence. Whilst he found himself tackled by a scrambled defence, he did make the breakthrough into the Tigers' 22. Maintaining their composure and structure, Bath carried out a barrage of attack, recycling the ball well and each time, inching closer to the Leicester line. Finally, a Michael Claassens pass found lock Dave Attwood who found a hole in the defence and crashed over the line from close quarters to score his first try in Bath colours. Vesty converted making the half time score Bath 13 Leicester 16.

Five minutes had passed in the second half and a well placed up and under put winger Matt Carraro under pressure, knocking the ball onwards. Despite Bath clearing up the spillage, the referee awarded Leicester another penalty for Bath playing the ball from an offside position. Staunton struck another three points. 13-19.

Ten minutes later, Bath once more were on the wrong end of the referee's whistle allowing Staunton to add three more points to his 100% record. 13-22.

Bath responded well though, and attacked hard and with purpose on the Leicester goal area. Another Biggs break opened up the away side's defence initiating the beginning of the try. The Bath forwards went through the phases, sucking in the defence, and through fast hands the ball found prop Kane Palma-Newport who drove onwards and slickly offloaded out of the tackle to put Carraro over in the far corner. Replacement fly-half, Tom Heathcote struck a superb conversion to take Bath just two points behind the Tigers. 20-22.

With just over ten minutes left of the game, Leicester knocked the ball on and Nick Abendanon counter attacked, weaving his way through the defenders and linking up well with his outside man Carraro. Playing the quick ball, a wayward Tigers player was deemed offside, providing Bath with a chance to take three points and go ahead. Heathcote stepped up and coolly struck the ball sending it through the middle of the posts. 23-22.

Bath's efforts were almost in vain however, as moments later Leicester were awarded a penalty at the scrum. Staunton was on song again and took his side ahead with five left on the clock. 

The Bath crowd couldn't have been more on edge as the home side came back at Leicester with everything they could muster and began another onslaught on the Tigers line. Phase after phase, the Blue, Black and Whites plugged away at the defence, and eventually a Leicester body was found offside, providing Heathcote with the most important kick off the game. Another great strike sent the ball through the posts and put Bath back in the lead, again.

There was just a minute left and a scrum down became the source of the last penalty of the game. In favour of Leicester, Simon Taylor had ball in hand and after the complaints of the Leicester players, the referee deemed Taylor to be slowing the ball down and marched Bath back ten metres, taking the penalty to within 45 metres of the posts. Staunton stepped up and having had a 100% record all game, the Bath crowd were quiet with worry. Staunton's leg swung, and as the ball began to rise so did the Bath supporters as the kick went sailing wide and the game was over. Bath had beaten the Leicester Tigers, 26-25.

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