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Bath end the season with a win over Leicester

Published 07/05/2016

Bath and George Ford ended with a win
Bath and George Ford ended with a win

Both sides collected try bonus points as Bath salvaged a degree of self-respect after their worst league campaign for 10 years came to a merciful end with a 38-27 win over Leicester.

The result changed nothing in terms of league position - Bath already stranded in ninth and fourth-placed Leicester keeping their powder dry for an away semi-final against Saracens in a fortnight.

Wing Semesa Rokoduguni kept up his rich vein of form by crossing twice for Bath, making it 10 tries in eight games. Others went to Ollie Devoto, Francois Louw and replacement wing Jeff Williams. George Ford converted all five and kicked a penalty.

Leicester resisted the urge to field any more than a handful of the team likely to run out for the Premiership semi-finals in a fortnight. That was despite the humiliation of losing 47-10 at the Rec in last season's play-offs.

But they dominated much of the game and scored tries through hooker Fraser Balmain, centre Peter Betham, full-back Matthew Tait and flanker Will Evans. Owen Williams kicked two conversions and a penalty.

Bath struck within two minutes of the kick-off, as the England duo of Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson combined neatly to send Rokoduguni away to the posts and Ford added the conversion.

But that was the last anyone saw of the home side's attacking threat for the rest of the half.

The Tigers were quickly on to the attack and would surely have scored if Balmain had let the ball go wide rather than run into team-mate Evans close to the Bath line.

As the rain came down, both sides resorted to a tactical kicking game. When Watson tried to run out from his own line and was penalised for not releasing the ball, Leicester opted for a line-out and worked a try for Balmain off the following ruck. Williams converted with the help of a post and the scores were level at 7-7 after 16 minutes.

Wing George Catchpole fumbled Ford's restart and Bath eventually forced a penalty for Ford to edge his side back in front.

But play was soon back in Bath territory, although Tom Croft spilled the ball over the line and Ben Youngs was only just held on the line when he tapped a penalty to himself.

Happily for the travelling Tigers supporters in a crowd of 13,515, the scrum yielded a straightforward try for Betham, breaking the double tackle of Ford and Devoto. Williams converted to regain the lead with 26 minutes played.

As Bath tried to make ground through ever riskier offloads, Leicester simply made all the right decisions to gain possession and territory. With loosehead prop Ellis Genge carrying destructively it was no surprise when Tait added a third unconverted try to give the visitors a 19-10 interval lead.

Bath's half-time team talk stung them into an instant response as Watson broke from deep. After reinforcements arrived, and Davey Wilson made another big dent in the Tigers defence, they were able to create a try at the posts for Devoto, converted by Ford.

Williams eased Leicester into a 22-17 lead with a penalty but Bath roused themselves again with two tries in three minutes, both converted by Ford. When Denton was driven almost to the line, Louw followed up for the try and then a late tackle by Genge on debutant scrum-half Will Homer gave Bath a line-out at the corner. Ford worked a loop to give the scoring pass to Rokoduguni, who dived in at the corner.

Leicester's pick-and-drive game established a threatening position but they knocked on from the catch-and-drive. It only delayed the inevitable as Evans squeezed in at the corner for the Tigers' bonus point try.

The conversion from Williams hit the post, leaving Bath with a 31-27 advantage but under increasing pressure until they broke away for a fifth try by replacement Jeff Williams two minutes from time to deny Tigers even a losing bonus point.

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