Higgins brace fails to save Bath

With just three days to recover from the remarkable victory over London Wasps on Wednesday night, it was a new-look squad that took to the field for the EDF Energy Cup match against Leicester Tigers and whilst motivation was high, the Guinness Premiership leaders could not produce a repeat performance and the Tigers left the Rec with a 15-19 win.

Bath opened with a statement of intent. Good interplay between Justin Harrison and Michael Stephenson gained territory inside the visitor's 22, allowing Andrew Higgins to sprint down the wing to cross the line after just four minutes. A successful conversion by Robbie Kydd catapulted Bath straight into a 7-0 lead and the early signs were that Bath were going to continue where they had finished at Adams Park.

The intent was not to last as Leicester came back into the game. Three minutes later Leicester were awarded a penalty kick for a Bath infringement and Derrick Hougaard slotted three points of his own.

After 13 minutes, the home side looked as though they were going to be rewarded with another five points as slick passing between Scott Bemand, Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu and Michael Stephenson allowed Tom Cheeseman to make some good headway towards the Tigers' territory. Unfortunately, the opportunity was lost as Bath were penalised for crossing and the Tigers kicked the ball away from the danger zone. After a further Bath offence, Hougaard's second penalty took the Tigers to within one point of equalising, which was rapidly followed by a try from Ben Youngs. Hougaard made the conversion and Leicester slipped into the lead with 7 - 13 advantage.

The intensity heightened when Leicester's Brett Deacon was penalised for not staying on his feet at the ruck which led to a kick from Kydd to the top corner. A run by Josh Ovens, who slipped the ball to Scott Hobson, shot Bath to within feet of the try line, but a clearance kick from the Tigers forced a chase by Michael Stephenson. As the ball bounced out of his grasp, Tom Varndell also gave chase and Bath were then themselves penalised for coming off their feet. Although Hougaard had the chance to kick them into a greater lead with another three points, the penalty went wide and the score line remained at 7 - 13 after 27 minutes.

Eight minutes before the half-time whistle, Bath clawed back some points as a scrum, less than five metres away from the white line, gave Bath the chance to spin the ball wide. However, the opportunity was squandered when Bath lost possession of the ball at a Ruck. Bath made amends in the best possible way shortly after as a blundered clearance kick from Leicester allowed Higgins to recapture possession and slip over the line for his second try. Kydd did not make the conversion.

Both teams started the second half with a renewed determination. Leicester's Alesana Tuilagi and Seb Pearson made inroads midfield, but with good defence from Higgins and Kydd, they failed to advance beyond the halfway line. However, a series of offences by both teams for not staying on their feet finally resulted in a penalty kick for Bath, which Kydd kicked for a lead of two points after 54 minutes.

A clearance kick by Fuimaono-Sapolu was intercepted by Leicester centre Ayoola Erinle and the action was drawn back inside Bath's 22. Leicester looked to have scored, but the referee deemed a double movement to have taken place and the Tigers had to be contented with three points moments late after another Bath offence. The visitors crept back into the lead by just one point at 65 minutes.

As the clock counted down to the final ten minutes, Leicester took a more decisive lead. Keen to make sure of the victory, Leicester pushed into Bath territory once more and fly half Hougaard executed a perfectly placed drop goal to take them to a 15 - 19 lead.

With just three minutes left, Bath attempted to overturn the four-point deficit and rallied to launch a series of attacks, but with the rain falling and a blustery breeze, the final push yielded no further points. Final score, Bath Rugby 15, Leicester Tigers 19.

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