Bath Rugby's unbeaten start to the Aviva Premiership season came to an end today, as Leicester Tigers beat them 34-14 at Welford Road.
A penalty from the boot of Owen Williams was just rewards for the home side after they applied phase after phase of pressure in the opening minutes. They backed it up after a quarter of an hour with a well-worked try from Brendan O’Connor. The flanker was on hand to finish a move started by Peter Betham, who danced down the touchline and found Telusa Veainu in support. The fullback played the link-man role, and O’Connor cantered over the line. 8-0.
A further three points from a scrum penalty extended the home side’s lead, but Bath hit back in fine style shortly after with a blistering try from Semesa Rokoduguni. George Ford looped the ball high in the air, and Rokoduguni leapt highest to claim it, beating JP Pietersen the ball catch. From 40 metres, the winger broke clear of the Tigers defence and slid over the line. Ford added the extra two points from the tee. 11-7.
Leicester, buoyed by their loud home support, kept the pressure on, pressing Bath back into their own half. Another penalty from the boot of Williams on the stroke of half-time extended the lead again.
Half-time: Leicester Tigers 14 – Bath Rugby 7
Bath had looked firmly in the game despite the late score in the first-half, but Leicester came out from the break full of intent. Two penalties within five metres of the try line were sent to touch, and a familiar sight soon followed - the Leicester forwards driving the maul towards the line, and Tom Youngs crashing over for the score under a pile of bodies. Williams added the conversion, followed in quick succession by two further penalties, giving the home side a 20 point advantage going into the final 15 minutes. 27-7.
Replacement Tom Dunn reduced the deficit with a try on the 69th minute – a lovely one-two with Matt Garvey at the lineout paying dividends for the young hooker, who powered through his opposite number for his first try in Bath colours. Ford added the conversion.
Leicester were in imperious form though, and sealed the win with a third try – Ed Slater crossing the whitewash after a series of pick and goes from the forwards. Freddie Burns was on target with a drop-goal conversion to take the home side to fourth in the table.
Final score: Leicester Tigers 34 – Bath Rugby 14.