Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Bath secure home semi-final

Matt Banahan was among the try-scorers in Bath's win over Leicester

Bath booked a home semi-final in the LV= Cup after a convincing four-try victory over Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.

The 35-17 win means Bath top pool three with a perfect record of four wins from four games, while two-time champions Leicester crashed out of the competition after finishing behind Sale and Exeter in pool two.

It was Leicester's third successive defeat in all competitions, their second at home.

Bath scored two tries in each half to earn a bonus point and after leading 18-17 at half-time they dominated the second period, winning it 17-0.

Their tries came from Alafoti Fa'osiliva, Matt Banahan, Ollie Devoto and Carl Fearns while Gavin Henson kicked 15 points.

Leicester, who had George Chuter sin-binned at the start of the second half, replied with tries from Pablo Matera and Blaine Scully, with Owen Williams kicking seven points.

Bath, who fielded a slightly stronger side than Leicester, were bidding to extend their unbeaten run against the Tigers to four games in all competitions. In the previous three - two wins and a draw - they had, amazingly, scored 27 points in each game.

And the visitors, who have never won the Anglo-Welsh competition, just edged a first half which was hugely entertaining despite the horrible conditions of driving rain.

Henson put Bath ahead after the visitors were awarded a penalty after just 45 seconds and they came close to extending their lead after an electrifying counter attack by fly-half Devoto. The ball was hacked on but the television match official ruled that Banahan had not grounded the ball.

Leicester took the lead following a ninth minute line-out. Captain Thomas Waldrom surged to the line and, after a ruck, Matera squirmed over the line, with Williams adding the conversion.

Nine minutes later Fa'osiliva capitalised on Nick Abendanon's fabulous break by kicking down the right wing and winning the chase for a fine solo try, which Henson failed to convert.

After Bath failed to deal with a Williams up-and-under, Scully stole the loose ball and scampered over from 22 metres, with Williams adding the conversion to put the Tigers 14-8 ahead.

Henson and Williams swapped penalties before Banahan scored in the 36th minute after great work by winger Tom Biggs, Banahan himself and number eight Leroy Houston. Henson converted.

Bath turned 18-17 into 21-17 12 minutes after the interval when Henson slotted another penalty after the Tigers had collapsed a rolling maul. Veteran hooker Chuter, a half-time replacement, was yellow-carded.

And Bath made it 28-17 on the hour after a scrum near the Tigers' posts. The forwards surged towards the line and Devoto went over for an easy try which Henson converted.

With 12 minutes left Bath extended their lead with their fourth try which earned them a bonus point, replacement Carl Fearns burrowing over after a line-out and driving maul. Henson converted.

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