Bath Rugby put up brave fight in Tigers lair

Bath Rugby came away with a losing bonus point from Welford Road, after a tense match saw Olly Barkley and Toby Flood exchange penalties, for a final score of 21-15.

A chilly Saturday afternoon at the fortress Leicester Tigers call Welford Road welcomed Bath Rugby for their first Premiership fixture following the Heineken Cup matches.

The game saw a torrid exchange of penalties, with neither team being able to cross the opposition's line. Bath showed great character throughout the entire game, withstanding numerous onslaughts from the home side, as well as showing their attacking capabilities in all areas of the park.

Bath were the first of the two teams to concede points, after an early penalty for an infringement in the scrum gave Leicester the advantage, and set Toby Flood to hit the drop goal to take Tigers three points ahead.

Another penalty against Bath just minutes after provided Flood with another attempt at goal just outside Bath's 22. Flood found the middle of the posts increasing the lead to 6-0.

A well placed up and under from Sam Vesty, followed by some great chasing from Nick Abendanon and Luke Watson, put the Leicester fullback and captain, Geordan Murphy, under immense pressure who gave the penalty away for not releasing the ball. Olly Barkley stepped up and from a considerable distance struck the ball well to close the deficit to three points. 6-3.

However, Bath's efforts were in vain and from the kick off Bath were again penalised and felt the sting of the current England number 10's boot. 9-3.

With twenty minutes gone, the referee deemed Bath in the wrong again, this time for offside. Flood added another simple three points to take Leicester into double figures. 12-3.

As the rain began to fall, a penalty fest was occurring when this time the tables were turned and it was the Tigers in the wrong for entering the ruck incorrectly. On the halfway line, Barkley stepped up and hit the ball beautifully over the posts. 12-6.

Conditions made it hard for both teams to play fast flowing rugby, as both sides encountered handling errors from the slippery conditions. Bath were handed an attempt at goal with just over five minutes left in the half. Barkley struck well again but the kick just went wide.

Bath wanted to finish the half strongly and a great take from Matt Banahan in the air released Abendanon down the left wing, but he was stopped by a typically determined Leicester defence.

The last play of the game saw Leicester give Bath another penalty after Alesana Tuilagi was deemed offside. Barkley had another chance, with a kick of similar distance to his previous kick, however he couldn't find his angle and Bath went in at the half time break 12-6 down.

Bath started the second half well, working their way into the home side's half, but some physical defence and rucking saw a turnover, with Ben Youngs taking play into Bath's 22. Leicester attacked with purpose and after Bath allegedly didn't realise the player on the floor, Flood took another three points making the difference 15-6.

The scrum saw another opportunity for Bath to be penalised and the referee saw fit after the visitors were accused of collapsing the scrum. Leicester's only points provider stepped up once more and added the three points. 18-6.

The visitors made their way deep into Leicester's 22, after some great attacking play down the wing. A maul formed from a lineout and the referee blew his whistle signalling a Leicester foul. Five metres from the try line, Bath decided three points were the best option and Barkley secured the points. 18-9.

Bath's attitude throughout the game had been determined and committed. After they turned on the pressure at the breakdown, the referee felt Leicester had been guilty of hands in the ruck. Barkley took the opportunity to put the ball through the sticks. 18-12.

Bath cleared their line just after the hour mark and great chasing from the backs caused the Leicester defence to spill the ball and then concede a penalty for preventing Bath from capitalising. Despite jeers from the Welford Road faithful, Barkley kept a cool head and converted for three more points taking the game to a tantalising 18-15.

With just three points in the balance Bath could sense a chance to take control of the game. The visitors bombarded Leicester with attack after attack, but yet again the resilient home defence would not let Bath cross the try line.

A huge disappointment occurred moments after, when Bath conceded a penalty at the worst of times. This let Flood increase that all important margin to six. 21-15.

Bath threw everything they could muster at the Leicester defence in the dying minutes of the game. Just metres from the line after multiple phases and attacks at the line, Bath lost possession and felt the disappointment of the loss, as Leicester kicked the ball out of play to end a hard fought game.

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