MATCH SUMMARY - BATH RUGBY 19-18 LEICESTER TIGERS
Will Butt proved the hero in front of an ecstatic Rec as his last-gasp try won the game for Bath Rugby against age-old rivals Leicester Tigers.
The wing finished acrobatically in the corner and after a TMO check, the noise of the home faithful said it all.
Nemani Nadolo barged his way over for Leicester early on and Freddie Burns added a penalty before Ted Hill's storming try up the wing.
James Cronin added Tigers' second but it was all Bath thereafter with Orlando Bailey's boot keeping the hosts in contention before Butt's sensational touchdown.
WATCH MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
Niall Annett was making his first start for Bath with Ben Spencer and Bailey returning to the half-back slots.
Former Bath man Anthony Watson took his place at full-back for Tigers with another old face in Burns taking the 10 jersey.
Bath Rugby: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Will Butt, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ollie Lawrence, 11 Matt Gallagher, 10 Orlando Bailey, 9 Ben Spencer ©; 1 Valeriy Morozov, 2 Niall Annett, 3 D’Arcy Rae, 4 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Quinn Roux, 6 Ted Hill, 7 Miles Reid, 8 Richard de Carpentier
Impact players: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Arthur Cordwell, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Tom Ellis, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Max Green, 22 Cameron Redpath, 23 Wesley White
Leicester Tigers: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Harry Potter, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Richard Wigglesworth; 1 James Cronin, 2 Charlie Clare, 3 Dan Cole (vc), 4 Harry Wells, 5 Calum Green, 6 George Martin, 7 Hanro Liebenberg (c), 8 Olly Cracknell
Replacements: 16 Tom Cowan-Dickie, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Will Hurd, 19 Eli Snyman, 20 Sean Jansen, 21 Sam Edwards, 22 Charlie Atkinson, 23 Phil Cokanasiga
Adding to his extensive number of metres gained this season, some beautiful work by Ollie Lawrence in the opening minutes of the game gave Bath the first kicking opportunity early into the match.
Bailey hadn’t lost his touch during his time off the pitch with a well-struck penalty, earning Bath the first points of the evening.
Striking back with some metres of their own, Leicester Tigers spread the ball wide to Nemani Nadolo who used his speed and strength to boulder through the Bath defence and crash himself over the line for the first try of the game, converted by Freddie Burns.
With scores on the board for both sides, the game was off to an exciting start in both physicality and speed, as were The Rec faithful who were in full voice.
With Tigers’ piling the pressure on in Bath’s half, Lawrence became a nuisance for the Tigers’ attack and forced a knock-on gifting Bath a scrum to diffuse the threat.
After signing for Leicester last season, Watson attempted an attack of his own but was stopped in his tracks with a huge sandwich tackle by his ex-teammates.
Some ill-discipline from Bath allowed Burns to kick for the posts again, taking the score to 10-3.
With some magic hands from the Bath pack, the next score came after a huge carry from Jonathan Joseph. Offloading to Miles Reid, the flanker sent a looping pass back inside to his back row counterpart Hill who stepped on the gas and headed straight for the whitewash and into the arms of the welcoming South Stand.
Tigers threatened Bath deep into the first half but after a review from the TMO, referee Tom Foley ruled the score out and the score remained with just two points separating the sides.
Unable to disrupt a driving Tigers’ maul in the closing seconds of the half, Tigers squeezed in another try and the teams headed into the sheds with one score in it, with the visitors leading 15-8.
The second half got off to a slow start with both teams sending the ball into the air in the midfield. Matt Gallagher was perfect under the high ball all evening and it was his boot later on that would able Bath to go on and win.
Getting *almost* the loudest cheer of the night, Tom Dunn blocked a Tigers’ 22 drop-out and showed his football skills to force a knock-on and put Bath on the attack in the visitors’ territory.
Arthur Cordwell proved a menace at the scrum, winning two scrum penalties with his dominance, with Bailey slotting to see the score sit at 18-14 with five minutes on the clock.
Leaving The Rec on tenterhooks, Bath piled on the pressure in the closing minutes of the game and Gallagher's massive left-footed kick moved the Blue, Black and White back into the 22. The full-back moments later played the perfect pass to wing Butt who, with a lot to do, dotted down in the finest of finishes to turn the match on its head.
To the sound of a roaring Rec, Bath celebrated their third win of the season against the Gallagher Premiership champions.
Next up... the Barbarians are in town!
Pol Roger Performance of the Match
BARBARIANS TICKETS ON SALE!
A host of established internationals will be included in the Barbarians squad for their visit to The Rec this autumn.
From club favourite Matt Banahan to All Black Damian McKenzie, the BaaBaas have a squad full of flair and talent for when they take on Bath Rugby.
The Blue, Black and White will host world rugby's most famous invitational side, coached by Crusaders Head Coach and former All Black Scott Robertson, on Sunday 20 November, kick-off 14:00.
Don't miss out on what will be a special day!
pre-order your matchday programme!
To mark Bath Rugby’s historic fixture with the Barbarians this month, the club will be producing a hard copy programme!