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Ford stars as Bath rout Tigers

England fly-half hopeful George Ford inspired a Bath romp at the Recreation Ground as hapless Leicester were ruthlessly battered into submission.

Aviva Premiership clashes between two traditional heavyweights of the English game tend to go the distance, but this latest bout proved a no-contest inside 40 minutes as Bath raced more clear before finishing Tigers off by a remarkable 45-0.

Ford kicked 20 points from three penalties, a drop-goal and four conversions, while Semesa Rokoduguni, Jonathan Joseph, Kyle Eastmond, Olly Woodburn and Peter Stringer scored tries to leave Leicester reeling from one of their biggest beatings in Premiership history.

And to compound their misery, replacement David Mele was sent off during the closing stages by referee Wayne Barnes for stamping.

Watching England coaches Mike Catt and Graham Rowntree could not fail to have been impressed by Bath's all-singing, all-dancing game, which was highlighted by 21-year-old Ford running the show like a seasoned veteran.

It meant Bath preserved a 100 per cent Premiership record this season after three games, but Leicester emphatically lost theirs on an afternoon when only flanker Tom Croft performed at anything approaching top gear.

Quite what Tigers rugby director Richard Cockerill made of it all is anyone's guess, although he was not helped by a major pre- match reshuffle as injuries sidelined England internationals Manu Tuilagi (groin) and Anthony Allen (knee).

But the lack of key personnel can be no excuse for Leicester's set-piece misery, dreadful defending and general lethargy as Bath humiliated them in a way that suggests they will be serious Premiership title contenders this term.

With Tuilagi and Allen absent, Tigers fielded an emergency centre combination of Matt Smith and Owen Williams, with former Scarlets fly-half Williams making his first Premiership start in midfield, while there were two scrum-halves on bench duty in Mele and Sam Harrison.

Bath, meanwhile, welcomed back wing Matt Banahan instead of an injured Anthony Watson as their solitary switch from the side that saw off London Welsh in bonus-point fashion seven days ago.

And Leicester were under the cosh from an early stage as Bath looked to move possession wide, with strong-running Banahan proving a particular threat, and they went ahead after nine minutes when Rokoduguni finished off a sustained passage of play by touching down wide out.

Ford kicked the touchline conversion and Bath were off and running as Leicester looked out of sorts, seeming as unfamiliar with each other as their garish orange away strip must have been for traditional Tigers supporters.

Ford made a flying start in his individual battle opposite fellow England hopeful Freddie Burns, landing a 40-metre penalty before keeping Bath on the front foot through a superb rolling touch-finder that created an attacking platform for his team's second try.

It was all too easy, though, as slick, accurate passing proved enough to disperse Leicester's defence, and Joseph cantered over unopposed before Ford's conversion made it 17-0 midway through an astonishingly one-sided opening quarter.

Bath were in complete control of the contest, dominating up front and knowing that Ford's all-round excellence would ensure considerable territorial control against a team seemingly derailed by the severe losses of Tuilagi and Allen.

Home props Paul James and David Wilson enjoyed overwhelming scrum supremacy, and a Ford drop-goal further rubbed Leicester's noses i n it as they trailed 20-0 approaching half-time before another penalty meant Tigers could not leave the field quickly enough.

If Leicester thought Bath might take their foot off the accelerator, they were mistaken as another Ford penalty was followed by a spectacular try sparked by the home side attacking from the shadow of their own posts.

Joseph made the initial break, leading Leicester's defence a merry dance, before Bath's forwards supported each other superbly and Eastmond jinked his way over, leaving the Tigers 31 points adrift.

Leicester enjoyed a brief spell of pressure inside Bath's 22, with full-back Mathew Tait going close to a try, but it predictably petered out and the home side conjured another breakaway score.

This time it was substitute Woodburn who proved the beneficiary, capitalising on a kick into space, and Leicester's defenders resembled statues as Woodburn cut inside for a touchdown near the posts that Ford converted.

There was still time for another breakaway score as replacement scrum-half Stringer ran through Leicester's shell-shocked defence, then Mele saw red and Leicester's horror was complete.

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