Planet Rugby

Bath pull plug on champions

27th October 2007 16:17

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Sam Vesty

Tiger Attack: Leicester's Sam Vesty squeezes through for his try

Bath transferred their fine Premiership form to the EDF Energy Cup by edging out Leicester Tigers, the reigning champions, with a 20-14 win at the Rec on Saturday.

The visitors actually controlled the game for long periods but the game turned on an opportunist try by centre Alex Crockett on 68 minutes.

Bath were also awarded a penalty try just before the break while Leicester full-back Sam Vesty crossed for their try earlier in the first half.

Bath were led by Steve Borthwick, making an early return from the World Cup, and Nick Abendanon, added to England's squad for the last week, was restored at full-back. The rest of the Bath contingent from the campaign were given more time to readjust.

Leicester also resisted the temptation to call on their World Cup players although Argentinian prop Marcos Ayerza came off the bench at half-time to shore up a creaking scrum.

Ryan Davis, handed the kicking duties while Shaun Berne took a rest on the bench, landed a 35-metre penalty after three minutes to give Bath the lead.

Opposite number Ian Humphreys replied from similar range a few minutes later and then preceded to give an assured display of the fly-half art, probing the corners with some finely judged kicks and also making a couple of clean line breaks.

On 23 minutes, the Ulsterman landed a second penalty from more than 50 metres to give Tigers the lead.

A couple of minutes later the visitors claimed a well-worked try from a free-kick when Vesty exploited the overlap. Humphreys's conversion was wide.

Bath had rarely been out of their half despite Abendanon's counter-attacking effort but, when number eight Jordan Crane was caught in possession in his 22, Davis' kicked his second penalty.

Humphreys was wide with a monster effort from six metres inside his own half and Bath slowly began the regain the initiative.

After Abendanon was halted at the corner, Leicester could only give away a penalty to frustrate Bath's powerful scrummage. And when they offended again at the next put-in, referee Ashley Rowden ran behind the posts to award a penalty try, converted by Davis.

Bath led 13-11 at the break but Humphreys edged Tigers back in the lead with a penalty after the restart.

Meanwhile, Davis missed a 35-metre effort and then went off with a leg injury to be replaced by Berne.

Borthwick was knocked into touch at the flag and at the other end Humphreys was off target with a straight forward penalty chance.

Bath thought they had regained the lead when gigantic replacement wing Matt Banahan handed off two players only to drop the ball when he got to the line. Leicester came back strongly but Bath's defence held firm and Crockett's try made it a six-point game but Bath held out to the final whistle.

The scorers:

For Bath:

Tries: Crockett, Penalty Try

Cons: Davis 2

Pens: Davis, Berne

For Leicester Tigers:

Try: Vesty

Pens: Humphreys 3

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Andy Higgins, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Tom Cheeseman, 11 Michael Stephenson, 10 Ryan Davis, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Daniel Browne, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Andy Beattie, 5 Peter Short, 4 Steve Borthwick, 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 David Flatman.

Replacements: 16 Neil Clarke, 17 Laurence Ovens, 18 Martin Purdy, 19 Jonny Fa'amatuainu, 20 Nick Walshe, 21 Shaun Berne, 22 Matt Banahan.

Leicester Tigers: 15 Sam Vesty, 14 Johne Murphy, 13 Ayoola Erinle, 12 Matt Cornwell, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Luke Abraham, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Richard Blaze, 3 Dave Young, 2 Mefin Davies (c), 1 Dan Cole.

Replacements: 16 Gavin Hickie, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Alex Moreno, 19 James Hamilton, 20 Ben Herring, 21 Tom Youngs, 22 Ben Youngs.

Referee: Ashley Rowden (England)

Touch judges: Ashley Reay (England), Roger Baileff (England)

Television match official: Matt Peters (England)

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