Planet Rugby

Bath demolish young Tigers

15th April 2008 21:55

Share:

Matt Banahan Bath v Leicester

Brush-off: Banahan slips Ayerza in victory

Bath compounded their old Guinness Premiership rivals' woes as they claimed an enthralling 26-12 win over champions Leicester at The Rec on Tuesday.

While Bath moved second in the table behind west country rivals Gloucester, play-off strugglers Leicester slipped to sixth place with just three games remaining.

Heineken Cup qualification next season still looks a strong bet, but Leicester seem destined for a season without silverware under head coach Marcelo Loffreda.

Just three days after suffering an emphatic defeat against EDF Energy Cup final opponents the Ospreys at Twickenham, a much-changed Tigers side was similarly eclipsed.

Bath had the game wrapped up by half-time following tries from prop Matt Stevens, hooker Lee Mears and wing Matt Banahan, whose ninth Premiership try of the season took him level with leading marksman Lesley Vainikolo.

Fit-again Springboks World Cup star Butch James chipped in with three penalties and a conversion, while Leicester struggled to add to an Ian Humphreys try in response.

Substitute scrum-half Frank Murphy finally added a second Tigers touchdown during the closing minutes, but bonus points eluded both sides, which ultimately could damage Leicester far more than Bath.

James returned to the Bath line-up for his first start since suffering a dislocated shoulder more than eleven weeks ago, while six England forwards featured in a powerful home pack.

Leicester fielded a solitary survivor from Twickenham in lock Ben Kay, who captained the side, with internationals Martin Corry and Aaron Mauger among those on bench duty.

Bath made a blistering start, monopolising possession from the kick-off, and that pressure was rewarded with a try inside three minutes.

Samoan centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu blasted through two attempted tackles, and although Tigers' defence kept him out, Bath easily worked space for Stevens to crash over.

James missed the conversion - he made amends by slotting a fifteenth-minute penalty - and had Bath kept their composure in attack, Leicester would have been finished inside the opening quarter.

The Tigers spent the entire duration pinned deep inside their own half, struggling to withstand a fiercely-sustained Bath onslaught.

And it came as no surprise when Leicester resorted to illegal means as they grew increasingly frustrated by an ability to gain a foothold in the contest.

Centre Ayoola Erinle was sin-binned for a technical infringement, with James booting the resulting penalty, before Bath blew a gilt-edged chance four minutes before half-time.

The impressive Fuimaono-Sapolu sprinted into space, before quickly recycled possession left flanker Jonny Faamatuainu with what appeared to be a simple scoring opportunity.

But he was adjudged to have knocked on as he dived over the line, handing Leicester a remarkable reprieve.

With Erinle still off though, Bath effectively ended the game as a contest by adding two further tries that rewarded an overwhelming degree of control.

Mears powered through an inviting gap in Leicester's defence for a touchdown that James converted, then deep into first-half injury time Banahan pounced.

James failed to add the extras, but a 23-0 interval lead left Bath one try short of a bonus point and Leicester in disarray.

Humphreys' clever kick-and-catch saw Leicester open the second-half scoring, and they enjoyed far greater control and cohesion during a third quarter that saw them keep Bath scoreless.

Corry's arrival underpinned a far more organised visiting effort, and Bath boss Steve Meehan made a triple change twelve minutes from time - including sending on England back Olly Barkley - in an attempt to raise the tempo.

But scrum-half Michael Claassens was then sin-binned for hands in the ruck, suggesting a bonus point score might prove out of reach after all.

And when Banahan received a yellow card for holding back Murphy off the ball, Bath found themselves down to thirteen men.

Leicester looked to take advantage of the hosts' two-man deficit, yet poor communication between Corry and Kay forfeited a promising attacking position, before substitute number eight Jordan Crane spilled a straightforward pass that epitomised Tigers' night as the rain fell.

Murphy though, then crossed for a controversial try - the touch judge appeared to rule Tom Croft had been tackled into touch before he delivered a scoring pass - that Humphreys converted.

The scorers:

For Bath:

Tries: Stevens, Mears, Banahan

Con: James

Pen: James 3

For Leicester:

Tries: Humphreys, Murphy

Con: Humphreys

Yellow card(s): Erinle (Leicester - deliberate hand in ruck - 27 mins), Claassens (Bath - deliberate hand in ruck - 66 mins), Banahan (Bath - tackle off-the-ball - 71 mins)

Bath: 15 Joe Maddock, 14 Andrew Higgins, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Butch James, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Daniel Browne, 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Jonny Faamatuainu, 5 Danny Grewcock, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Lee Mears, 1 David Flatman.

Replacements: 16 Pieter Dixon, 17 Duncan Bell, 18 Peter Short, 19 Chris Goodman, 20 Mike Baxter, 21 Olly Barkley, 22 Michael Stephenson.

Leicester: 15 Sam Vesty, 14 Tom Varndell, 13 Ayoola Erinle, 12 Matt Cornwell, 11 Ollie Dodge, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Christophe Laussucq, 8 Brett Deacon, 7 Ben Pienaar, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Ben Kay (c), 4 Richard Blaze, 3 Julian White, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Marcos Ayerza.

Replacements: 16 Mefin Davies, 17 Alex Moreno, 18 Martin Corry, 19 Jordan Crane, 20 Frank Murphy, 21 Aaron Mauger, 22 Johne Murphy.

Referee: Wayne Barnes

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs WaspsLeicester Tigers vs Wasps Preview
Exeter vs SaracensExeter vs Saracens Preview
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs GloucesterLondon Irish vs Gloucester Preview
London Welsh vs NorthamptonLondon Welsh vs Northampton Preview
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale SharksNewcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South AfricaWales vs South Africa Preview
England vs AustraliaEngland vs Australia Preview
More International Match fixtures
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , December 5
Montpellier vs Bath19:45
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Preview
Leinster vs OspreysLeinster vs Ospreys Preview
Connacht vs ScarletsConnacht vs Scarlets Preview
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs DragonsGlasgow Warriors vs Dragons Preview
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , December 4
La Rochelle vs Exeter19:45
Friday , December 5
Brive vs Oyonnax18:30
Grenoble vs Rovigo18:30
Newcastle vs Stade Francais20:00
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont AuvergneToulon vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath 25 - 6 HarlequinsBath vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 36 - 25 TrevisoCardiff Blues vs Treviso Report
Munster 21 - 20 UlsterMunster vs Ulster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath933
2Northampton830
3Exeter828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821