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Leicester hold on to deny Bath in Anglo-Welsh Cup opener

Published 04/11/2016

Freddie Burns kicked 11 points for Leicester
Freddie Burns kicked 11 points for Leicester

Leicester opened their Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign with a victory over Bath that was more convincing than the 21-20 scoreline suggests.

First-half tries by Luke Hamilton and George Catchpole and 11 points from the boot of Freddie Burns put them in control until Bath threatened to steal the game late on. Their tries came from wings Jack Wilson, Jeff Williams and replacement Dan Bowden.

Wilson, recently arrived from Otago, wasted no time in introducing himself to the Rec faithful as he slid in for a try in the corner with just 10 minutes on the clock.

Adam Hastings, who had opened the scoring with a third-minute penalty and supplied the assist for Wilson, could not make the conversion but his father Gavin, the former Lions captain, must have approved of the early contribution.

Leicester's response was immediate as Bath were turned over at the restart and Hamilton eventually forced his way over at the posts after good work by highly-rated back-row partner Will Evans.

Burns' conversion put the visitors just 8-7 behind, and the Bath-born fly-half added a penalty to seize the lead as the home side found themselves on the defensive, repeatedly turned by probing kicks.

Bath were also coming off second best in the tackle area and there were too few scrums to gain any advantage there.

Catchpole added an unconverted try for Tigers in the left corner after 24 minutes when a typically turbocharged run by hooker Harry Thacker dragged the Bath defence out of shape. Burns' conversion attempt was wide and he also missed a kickable penalty soon after.

Bath roused themselves as lock Elliott Stooke broke through but a furious assault on the visitors' line only yielded a penalty as frustration led to indiscipline.

Leicester held their 15-8 lead into half-time and Burns added two more penalties after the beak as Bath struggled for worthwhile possession against better-drilled opposition who squeezed them out of the contest.

Bath saw a glimmer of hope when the visitors lost replacement prop Pat Cilliers to the sin bin for a cynical offside, and right wing Williams supported the excellent Zach Mercer's dash down the right touchline to score an unconverted try after 65 minutes.

After a missed penalty by George Worth at the other end, the home side mounted a huge effort and Bowden crossed for a 75th-minute try. Hastings converted to make it a one-point game but with too little time to snatch a win.

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