Bath Rugby survived going down to 13 men at one point to run away with a 47-10 victory against Leicester Tigers - one which takes them to their first Aviva Premiership Final since 2004.
The home side were quick to score. Shortly after the kick-off, Semesa Rokoduguni was obstructed in the process of taking a high ball. George Ford kicked the penalty on halfway to touch on Tigers' 22. Bath won the lineout and, when Jonathan Joseph spotted a gap, he glided through it and passed to Matt Banahan for the try. Ford took a fantastic touchline kick to make the conversion and the score 7-0.
Tigers ten Freddie Burns registered his side's first points of the match on 24 minutes with a penalty kick. Bath's response was sudden: winning the ball back at the restart, Francois Louw and Ross Batty did the damage at close quarters and then some delicate passing from Ford and Joseph put Banahan in for his second. Ford struck an identical touchline conversion to his first one to take it to 14-3.
The crowd then truly reached fever pitch when Rokoduguni rounded his opposite number on halfway, then chipped the Leicester fullback. Kyle Eastmond, sensing something was on, sprinted in support and received a generous bounce to score the try, converted by Ford. 21-3.
Bath found themselves down to 13 men with over ten minutes remaining in the first half. Despite heroic defence, including stifling the Tigers' renowned maul, the personnel deficit eventually told when Tigers hooker Tom Youngs dived over for their first try of the match, converted by Burns.
The teams went into half time with the home side taking a ten-point lead.
Half time: Bath Rugby 21-10 Leicester Tigers
While the first half of the match will be remembered for three well-worked tries from Bath, the second started as a tale of gutsy defensive work from the home side (and, of course, some relentless carrying from Tigers).
Nearing the final quarter, it was as if Bath had bided their time enough. Carl Fearns, on at six as a replacement, made the initial break in Tigers' half. Francois Louw came in support and took the ball further upfield, before passing to Peter Stringer who finished off the rousing passage of play. Ford made it 28-10 with his conversion.
The game was put to bed a matter of minutes later, when Rokoduguni made a break up the blindside, drew his man and fed the ball to Ford, who dived over in the right-hand corner for his second Premiership try of the season. He was unable to convert his own try, but the damage was already done at 33-10.
It is hard to believe that there was more to come, but that was indeed the case, with Watson making a bamboozling run into the heart of the Tigers defence and feeding Banahan for the Jerseyman's hat-trick, which Ford converted. 40-10.
There was time for one last try - and this one just as good as the others - when Watson went over for himself, showing too much pace for the Tigers defence to react in time and scoring under the posts. Ford ensured that the last act of the match was his conversion against his former side. 47-10.
With that done, Bath march on to a Premiership final at Twickenham against the other semi-final victors, Saracens.
Full time: Bath Rugby 47-10 Leicester Tigers
23 May 2015
Referee: JP Doyle
Half Time score: 21-10
- Tries: Banahan (1, 24, 75), Eastmond (29), Stringer (63), Ford (68), Watson (79)
- Conversions: Ford (3, 26, 30, 65, 77, 80)
- Tries: Youngs (39)
- Conversions: Burns (40)
- Penalties: Burns (23)