Planet Rugby

Tigers roar back to beat Bath

04th January 2009 15:29

Share:

Dan Hipkiss Leicester Bath

Mind the gap: Leicester centre Dan Hipkiss takes on the Bath defence

Leicester Tigers came back from the dead to record an epic if ill-tempered 24-22 victory over Bath at Welford Road on Sunday, with the boot of Derick Hougaard cancelling out three tries from the visitors.

Bath outscored their hosts three tries to two, but Hougaard kicked 14 points from four penalties and a match-winning conversion to overturn a 22-9 deficit.

Stuart Hooper, Pieter Dixon and Joe Maddock all breached Leicester's defence, yet the defeat ruined any chance Bath had of catching league leaders London Irish.

For much of the game, Tigers played as though they were preoccupied by continued speculation about the future of their head coach Heyneke Meyer.

Meyer recently flew home to South Africa because of family illness - but there are suggestions he might not return to the Midlands.

Meyer, who masterminded the Blue Bulls' Super 14 title triumph in 2007 and only became Leicester boss last summer, has handed caretaker coaching duties to his Leicester assistant Richard Cockerill.

And former Leicester front-row warrior Cockerill could only wince at Bath's degree of control for most of the match, which was underlined when Maddock scored a superb 56th-minute try.

Fly-half Butch James, Bath's most dominant player, kicked two conversions and a penalty to leave Leicester in all kinds of strife before Croft sparked an unexpected revival by touching down 14 minutes from time.

Leicester ultimately prevailed, digging deep into their renowned reserves of character after seeing England centre Dan Hipkiss stretchered off nursing what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

Both sides were hit by late withdrawals, as Tigers went into battle minus their New Zealand import Scott Hamilton and England international number eight Jordan Crane.

Johne Murphy replaced Hamilton, while Craig Newby took over from Crane, with Bath losing lock Justin Harrison and skipper Michael Lipman because of stomach bugs.

Both players featured on the bench - they were replaced by Hooper and James Scaysbrook, respectively - as Bath targeted their eighth victory of the Premiership campaign.

Hougaard, starting instead of a rested Toby Flood, kicked Leicester ahead through an early long-range penalty, but Bath forged ahead just four minutes later.

James powered into the heart of Leicester's defence, and with Tigers stretched, Hooper claimed a close-range touchdown that James converted.

The score was deserved reward for Bath's far greater sense of adventure, and they should have scored again 11 minutes later after Hougaard missed drop-goal and penalty chances.

James' superbly-weighted kick created a golden chance, but Bath's rugby league recruit Shontayne Hape knocked on with the line at his mercy.

Hougaard cut the deficit through a 30th-minute penalty, but James then found his range five minutes later as Bath ended a half they dominated 15-6 ahead.

Hougaard's third penalty reduced the Bath advantage to six points, and both coaches began to ring the changes, with Leicester skipper Martin Corry among those replaced.

Former England hooker George Chuter was among those who appeared off the Leicester bench, which sparked a spell of Tigers pressure as they looked to erase Bath's lead.

But with the pressure mounting, so Bath conjured a memorable try thanks to James' invigorating approach.

Instead of taking a safety-first option of kicking to touch, the South African chased his own clearance into space, found Maddock in support and then exchanged passes with the New Zealander before Maddock touched down.

James slotted the touchline conversion for good measure, taking Bath 13 points clear and in pursuit of a try-scoring bonus point.

But Leicester finished with a nine-point scoring burst, sealing the deal during injury time when Tom Croft claimed his second try and Hougaard landed a match-winning conversion.

And right on the whistle, Harrison was sin-binned, underlining a startling Bath demise as the overwhelming majority in a capacity 17,948 crowd roared Leicester home.

The scorers:

For Leicester Tigers:

Tries: Croft 2

Cons: Hougaard 2

Pens: Hougaard 3

For Bath:

Tries: Hooper, Dixon, Maddock

Con: James

Pens: James 2

Yellow card(s): Harrison (Bath) - fighting, 79

The teams:

Leicester Tigers:15 Geordan Murphy, 14 Johne Murphy, 13 Danny Hipkiss, 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Matt Smith, 10 Derick Hougaard, 9 Julien Dupuy, 8 Craig Newby, 7 Lewis Moody, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Ben Kay, 4 Martin Corry (c), 3 Julian White, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Boris Stankovich.

Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Martin Castrogiovanni, 18 Marco Wentzel, 19 Brett Deacon, 20 Ben Youngs, 21 Seru Rabeni, 22 Tom Varndell.

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Joe Maddock, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Andrew Higgins, 10 Butch James, 9 Scott Bemand, 8 Daniel Browne, 7 Michael Lipman (c), 6 Andy Beattie, 5 Peter Short, 4 Stuart Hooper, 3 Duncan Bell, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 David Barnes.

Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Aaron Jarvis, 18 Justin Harrison, 19 Jonny Faamatuainu, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 22 Jack Cuthbert.

Referee: Chris White

Touch judges: Stuart Terheege, Paul Dix

Television match official: Brian Abrahams, Graham Hughes

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , October 3
Bath vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 4
London Irish vs Northampton15:00
Harlequins vs London Welsh15:00
Gloucester vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , October 5
Sale vs Wasps14:00
Newcastle vs Exeter15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , October 4
South Africa vs New Zealand16:05
Argentina vs Australia23:40
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 3
Connacht vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Ulster vs Edinburgh19:35
Zebre vs Ospreys19:35
Saturday , October 4
Leinster vs Munster18:30
Sunday , October 5
Benetton Treviso vs Glasgow14:00
Scarlets vs Newport Gwent D'gons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , October 3
Oyonnax vs Toulon20:45
Saturday , October 4
Bordeaux-Begles vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Brive18:30
Bayonne vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Lyon18:30
Castres vs Grenoble18:30
Toulouse vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , October 3
Pumas vs Blue Bulls15:00
Sharks vs Lions19:10
Saturday , October 4
Cheetahs vs Western Province14:00
Griquas vs Eastern Province Kings15:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 28
Wasps 35 - 18 NewcastleWasps vs Newcastle Report
Exeter 36 - 13 HarlequinsExeter vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 33 - 15 Benetton TrevisoNewport Gwent D
More Guinness PRO12 results
ITM Cup
Tasman 32 - 24 OtagoTasman vs Otago Report
Canterbury 26 - 28 SouthlandCanterbury vs Southland Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 27
Leicester 19 - 22 London IrishLeicester vs London Irish Report
Saracens 40 - 19 Sale SharksSaracens vs Sale Sharks Report
Northampton 31 - 24 BathNorthampton vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
South Africa 28 - 10 AustraliaSouth Africa vs Australia Report
Argentina 13 - 34 New ZealandArgentina vs New Zealand Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Zebre 13 - 6 UlsterZebre vs Ulster Report
Munster 14 - 19 OspreysMunster vs Ospreys Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulon 40 - 17 MontpellierToulon vs Montpellier Report
Grenoble 27 - 25 Racing Metro ParisGrenoble vs Racing Metro Paris Report
Brive 34 - 24 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 8 - 19 Clermont Auvergne
Stade Francais 43 - 10 La Rochelle
Lyon 28 - 18 Castres
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Sharks 53 - 24 Eastern Province KingsSharks vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Griquas 8 - 46 LionsGriquas vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 20 - 22 ManawatuWaikato vs Manawatu Report
North Harbour 28 - 25 Hawkes Bay
Counties Manukau 55 - 7 WellingtonCounties Manukau vs Wellington Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 26
London Welsh 10 - 46 GloucesterLondon Welsh vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 37 - 23 Cardiff BluesLeinster vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens418
2Northampton416
3Bath415
4Exeter414
5Wasps411