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Ford quiet on Priestland talk

Bath boss Mike Ford has refused to be drawn on speculation that Wales international fly-half Rhys Priestland is to join the Aviva Premiership title contenders.

Press Association Sport understands that Scarlets playmaker Priestland will move to Bath after the World Cup later this year.

It is thought he has agreed a two-year deal, with an an announcement planned on his move from west Wales in the next few days.

Asked if he had any comment on the Priestland situation following Bath's 17-8 defeat at Leicester, Ford replied: "No.

"Recruitment is ongoing, and we've got two or three (players) still to get in place for next season."

Priestland, 27, has won 32 Wales caps, but is currently behind Ospreys star Dan Biggar in the Wales fly-half pecking order.

He would become Bath's second major signing for next term, joining Fiji scrum-half Niko Matawalu, while it is thought that South Africa Test number eight Duane Vermeulen remains a key recruitment target.

On the pitch, Leicester avenged one of the most humiliating days in their history by sinking Bath.

Second-placed Bath's run of five successive league wins came to a grinding halt as an early Tom Youngs try and four Owen Williams penalties saw Leicester home.

George Ford kicked his team's solitary penalty, but he missed the 80th-minute conversion of Ross Batty's try that would have given the visitors a losing bonus point.

And it was a sweet result in more ways than one for Leicester, given that Bath crushed them 45-0 when the sides last met just over three months ago.

Ford added: "We were on the wrong side of the referee. We couldn't adapt.

"We are the best-disciplined team in the competition by a country mile, but today we conceded nine or 10 penalties in the first 25 minutes, so we will have to look at that.

"Is it because we've come to Leicester and the crowd are baying for our blood? I am not too sure. We have got to adapt better.

"At 17-3 behind in those conditions, the game got away from us a little bit.

"They had some good tactics. They executed really well. They were very hungry, and if you lose the ruck (area) in those conditions it's really tough.

"Can we get better? Of course we can. We played the better football, but that doesn't mean you win games. There are loads of different ways to win a game.

"We are in a good place, and we will lick our wounds and learn from today."

Leicester remain fifth in the table, but they again look to be strong play-off contenders following a difficult start to the current campaign.

"It was a big game for us, and I thought we played very well against a good side," Tigers rugby director Richard Cockerill said.

"In isolation, it's a massive win for us - a great building block.

"We didn't talk about it (45-0 defeat). I didn't really want to revisit it too much because every time you watched it they looked so good. We focused on ourselves and what we can do well.

"Across the board, I think we wanted it more than they did. We defended exceptionally well and we didn't give their back-line the opportunity to create the opportunities that maybe they normally get.

"It proves we can beat the sides that have been on really good form. It puts us right back in the mix.

"It sends a little bit of a bullet across the bows of everybody that we are still in the mix and we have still got the appetite to compete. We needed to win today."

Cockerill, meanwhile, added that Leicester and England centre Manu Tuilagi is on course to play again this month after an injury-ravaged campaign.

"By the end of this month, Manu will be playing," he said.

"He is progressing really well, and we want to get him right.

"We want Manu in the Six Nations if that is possible, and we want him playing in the World Cup."


From Belfast Telegraph