Billy Twelvetrees marked his return with two tries in a 27-11 win over Bath that keeps alive Leicester's hopes of LV= Cup progression.
Billy Twelvetrees marked his return with two tries in a 27-11 bonus-point win over Bath that keeps alive Leicester's hopes of LV= Cup silverware.
Twelvetrees, the hero of Leicester's thrilling Heineken Cup draw with the Ospreys in October, scored the try that broke Bath's resistance late in the first half then jinked through for his second to seal the win.
It was Twelvetrees' first appearance for Leicester in more than three months because of an ankle injury, although he had eased his way back into action by spending a month on loan at Championship club Nottingham.
His tries helped to preserve Leicester's unbeaten home record which stretches back to September 26, 2008.
That record looked under threat for most of a poor first half as Leicester struggled for fluency with a side missing 13 players away training with various England squads.
It was left to Bath centre Ryan Davis to break the deadlock with a penalty after 18 minutes when Leicester were penalised for collapsing a maul, although Sam Vesty levelled five minutes before the break with a well-struck long-range effort.
But both kickers also missed decent penalty chances, with Vesty hitting an upright with his opening effort and Davis scuffing an eminently kickable one after former England prop Julian White took down a scrum.
Bath twice came close to breaching Leicester's defences with lock Peter Short charging down a clearance kick from Aaron Mauger, only to be denied by Alex Tuilagi who scrambled back to touch down.
Former Leicester scrum-half Scott Bemand then set up an attack with a quick tapped penalty but number eight Ben Skirving was hauled down with the line in sight.
Leicester eventually clicked into gear when Argentinian full-back Lucas Amorosino stepped out of a tackle, Mauger chipped ahead and Twelvetrees used his pace and height to beat the cover defence and touch down. Vesty again hit an upright with his conversion attempt.
Davis trimmed the deficit to two points with a penalty three minutes into the second half but Vesty was off target with a long-range effort four minutes later.
Leicester sustained the pressure however and a high tackle by Nicky Little on Amorosino gave Leicester's pack the chance to lunch a series of close-range assaults. A penalty try was the predictable outcome when Bath collapsed a scrum under their own posts and Vesty added an easy conversion.
Leicester captain Mauger then crossed the line but his try was disallowed by referee David Rose for a forward pass.
It proved only a temporary respite for Bath as Twelvetrees powered over for his second try after 75 minutes, stepping through some flimsy tackling when Leicester attacked from a scrum. Vesty tagged on the extras.
Jonny Faamatuainu galloped clear for Bath's consolation try but Tuilagi secured a valuable bonus point for Leicester when he went over for a long distance interception try at the death.
Leicester's England and British & Irish Lions scrum-half Harry Ellis started his first game since mid-September, an absence caused by knee problems, and he played almost 60 minutes before he was replaced by James Grindal.
Tries: Twelvetrees 2, Penalty, Tuilagi
Con: Vesty 2
Pen: Davies 2
Leicester: 15 Lucas Amorosino, 14 Alesana Tuilagi, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Aaron Mauger (c), 11 Matt Smith, 10 Sam Vesty, 9 Harry Ellis, 8 Brett Deacon, 7 Ben Woods, 6 Ben Pienaar, 5 Ben Kay, 4 Calum Green, 3 Julian White, 2 Joe Duffey, 1 Boris Stankovich.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Robbie Harris, 18 Ryan Bower, 19 Dan Hemingway, 20 Tom Armes, 21 James Grindal, 22 Andy Forsyth, 23 Johne Murphy.
Bath: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Joe Maddock (c), 13 Tom Cheeseman, 12 Ryan Davis, 11 Rhys Crane, 10 Nicky Little, 9 Scott Bemand, 8 Ben Skirving, 7 Josh Ovens, 6 Daniel Browne, 5 Scott Hobson, 4 Peter Short, 3 Duncan Bell, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Mark Lilley, 17 David Barnes, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Andy Beattie, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Jonny Faamatuainu, 22 Matt Keyte, 23 Matt Spelman.
Referee: David Rose