Leicester Tigers claimed a 17-12 victory over Bath in a feisty Aviva Premiership fixture at Welford Road that produced three red cards.
Leicester Tigers picked up a 17-12 victory over Bath in a feisty Aviva Premiership fixture at Welford Road that produced three red cards.
Both kickers were guilty of missing early penalties but the visitors did eventually take the initiative as an incisive run from Nick Abendanon created the time and space for Stephen Donald, who deceived Adam Thompstone and Brett Deacon with a dummy and coasted over for the opening try.
The Tigers nearly drew level midway through the first half as they put several well-worked phases of play together but Niall Morris' try was ruled out by the TMO for a forward pass by Graham Kitchener.
George Ford did finally find his kicking boots to get the home side on the scoreboard with a penalty early in the second half and, after Simon Taylor was sent to the sin bin, he edged his team in front with another long-range attempt.
Leicester weren't ahead for long though as Donald's long pass put Matt Banahan away down the left wing and the giant centre popped the ball inside for Tom Biggs to stroll over the whitewash.
A feisty encounter then turned distinctly sour moments later as the influential South African Francois Louw was sent off for the use of an elbow, prompting a lengthy period of ill-discipline from both sides.
With Bath down to 14 men, Thompstone finished off an overlap and Ford added another penalty to put the hosts ahead again before the match became almost farcical with players exiting the fray left, right and centre.
Banahan was given a red card for a nasty-looking high tackle that left Anthony Allen out cold for quite some time and Brett Deacon suffered the same fate for throwing a punch at the Bath centre in the aftermath.
The drama didn't end there as the TMO was called into again soon afterwards and Donald was sin-binned for flailing his arms in the direction of replacement Dan Bowden's face.
Amid it all, Ford slotted over another three points with the aid of the left-hand post to stretch the Tigers' lead and the severely depleted Bath outfit were never really likely to mount a comeback.
Both teams played some enterprising rugby despite the anarchy and ill-discipline of the first ever Premiership encounter to feature three red cards but Leicester held on to continue their excellent home record against their arch enemy.
Pen: Ford 4
Yellow card: Taylor (49 mins), Donald (65 mins)
Red card: B Deacon (64 mins)
Tries: Donald, Biggs
Red card: Louw (57 mins), Banahan (64 mins)
Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 George Ford, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Brett Deacon, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Louis Deacon (c), 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Jonny Harris, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Micky Young, 22 Dan Bowden, 23 Geordan Murphy.
Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Kyle Eastmond, 13 Horacio Agulla, 12 Matt Banahan, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Brett Sharman, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Josh Ovens, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Jack Cuthbert.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Nigel Carrick, Alan Hughes
Timekeeper: Trevor Fisher
Assessor: Matthew Peters