After a disasterous start John Connolly's side clawed their way back from 17-6 down to incredibly lead 23-17 midway through the second period when it looked conceivable that Bath's excellent record at Welford Road might remain intact. However, two late tries from Tigers' Tom Varndell and Shane Jennings flattered the hosts with a 40-26 victory.
Head coach Connolly, keeping a brave face on matters after the match said that he was pleased with a greatly improved performance, but said that mistakes had proven costly once more as his side slipped to a third straight loss in front of a 16,850 crowd.
"It was a more encouraging display," said Connolly. "We took their pack on and played some pretty good rugby at times and were confident that we had a pretty good chance at winning it when Bory got his try. However, we simply cannot afford to make as many basic errors as we do. Three of Leicester's four tries came from our mistakes."
After just twenty-eight seconds of this Guinness Premiership encounter it was difficult to see how Bath's performance was going to be encouraging. Almost immediately from the kick off Bath attacked, but Matt Perry's lazy pass stuck to the willing hands of Tom Varndell, who scorched under the posts for the perfect start for the home side. Goode's conversion compounded the misery and it must have looked to Bath supporters that it was going to be a very long afternoon in the Leicestershire sun.
Rather than capitulate, Bath showed a great deal of courage and self belief to bounce back and soon found themselves just a point adrift thanks to the newly rediscovered form of Olly Barkley's left boot. However, it could have been much worse for the visitors and had it not been for a crucial interception by debutant David Bory when the home side were lining up to score in the corner, it may have been game set and match within ten minutes.
Bory, the experienced international, was the stand out player for both sides. Energetic, enthusiastic and certainly not work shy, the winger found himself involved in everything that was good about Bath's afternoon, setting up a try for Andy Higgins and intercepting a pass to score himself. It was a solid debut from the Frenchman which bodes well for the future.
Leicester stretched their advantage when there was a little bit of handbags after Danny Grewcock was clearly impeded at a lineout five metres out from his own line. Unfortunately the players took it upon themselves to sort things out and referee Chris White awarded a penalty which Andy Goode converted.
Then came a killer blow. With Frikkie Welsh clearly struggling with his ribs, the Leicester back line attacked the South African's flank and Geordan Murphy's delicate chip behind Welsh opened up the Bath defence and bounced into the hands of Varndell. Despite Andy Higgins best efforts to track back, Vardell passed inside to Murphy who ghosted in at the corner. Goode converted to leave the home side cruising at 17-6.
Bath though refused to buckle and as Leicester became a little complacent in their play, the visitors capitalized. David Bory got involved again with another interception and made good ground before passing outside to Andy Higgins who burned off the cover to score near the posts. Barkley's conversion was good and suddenly the whole complexion of the game changed as the visitors went into the changing room just a point in arrears.
Leicester were caught knapping at the start of the second half and after Goode missed a penalty, Bory created his moment of magic. With Leicester attacking deep inside the Bath twenty-two, the Frenchman executed his third interception of the afternoon and left England scrum half Harry Ellis flailing in his wake as he raced eighty metres to score a sensational try. Barkley converted from the left and remarkably Bath were leading. Game on.
That was a close as Bath were to get as Leicester regained pressure and momentum in a telling twenty minute spell. First Goode landed a penalty to reduce the deficit to three points before Goode turned architect when his long pass found Varndell for his second try. Goode's conversion stretched the lead to ten points and suddenly from working so hard to get their noses in front, Bath required a kick inside the last ten minutes to at least earn a bonus point.
However, earn it they did and when Olly Barkley landed a forty metre to reduce the deficit to seven points, the game was open once more. Significant stoppage time owing to the constant re-patching of Steve Borthwick's nose, allowed Bath the opportunity to attack one last time, but in their ambition to go for broke, an inevitable mistake came and from a scrum Shane Jennings pounced on untidy ball to score under the posts and seal Bath's fate.
Bath Rugby: 15 Perry, 14 Bory (1t), 13 Higgins (1t), 12 Barkley, 11 Welsh (Finau), 10 Dunne, 9 Wood (Walshe), 1 Barnes, 2 Mears, 3 Stevens (Bell), 4 Borthwick (Hudson blood), 5 Grewcock, 6 Beattie, 7 Delve (Scaysbrook), 8 Feaunati
16 Dixon, 17 Bell, 18 Scaysbrook, 19 Hudson, 20 Walshe, 21 Finau, 22 Davis
Man of the Match: David Bory
Ref: Chris White