Leicester get play-off ambitions back on track with win over Bath
Adam Thompstone, Sione Kalamafoni (2), Sam Harrison and Telusa Veainu cross for the Tigers.
Leicester Tigers are back in the Aviva Premiership play-off race after a pair of decisive tries in the last seven minutes carried them to a 34-19 win over Bath in front of a 60,884 Twickenham crowd.
The match swung one way and then another as Leicester led 20-19 going into the last quarter.
Bath scored one try from hooker Tom Dunn, with fly-half Rhys Priestland kicking four penalties and a conversion.
However, number eight Sione Kalamafoni scored two tries to keep Leicester in the game during the second half, adding to a try from wing Adam Thompstone.
Scrum-half Sam Harrison got the bonus-point try on 73 minutes before full-back Telusa Veainu got the Tigers’ fifth. Fly-half George Ford booted a penalty and three conversions.
Bath came out with all guns blazing as they looked to for their second successive victory over Leicester at Twickenham.
They lead 6-3 lead after 16 minutes through two Priestland penalties, with Ford sending over one for the Tigers.
The Tigers, however, gained the advantage after Bath scrum-half Kahn Fotuali’I was sent to the sin-bin when he stopped Leicester from scoring by putting his hands in a ruck on his own line.
Leicester landed on the Bath line and put their opponents under serious pressure.
England squad prop Ellis Genge gave Bath tight-head Shaun Knight a torrid time as the Tigers opted for scrum after scrum when Bath were continuously penalised.
Referee Wayne Barnes eventually had enough and reduced the West Country club to 13 men by sin-binning Knight.
The pressure told as Leicester took the lead. A move going left from yet another scrum saw centre Mathew Tait feed Thompstone to race over in the corner.
Ford’s touchline conversion was excellent but, with Bath back to 14 men on Fotuali’I’s return, they, surprisingly, had their best spell of the half.
They went back in front when the scrum-half fed Dunn to crash over under a pile of bodies for a converted touchdown.
And in the last move of the period, England centre Jonathan Joseph kicked to the Tigers’ corner, wing Matt Banahan did amazingly well to grab the ball and attempt to score on the right but the TMO replay showed the ball had slipped from his grasp in the act of touching down.
Leicester turned the screw after the break and again put Bath under pressure. Lock Graham Kitchener, who was having a good game in the loose, drove to the opposition line where Kalamafoni picked up and dived over from five metres.
Priestland booted two penalties either side of Kalamafoni’s second try and Leicester also had Thompstone sin-binned for a high tackle on Bath full-back James Wilson.
With six minutes left, Leicester took a crucial lead as Harrison thrust himself over for his side’s bonus-point touchdown that Ford converted.
And the win was confirmed as Veainu went through a gap for Leicester’s fifth try that Ford converted to leave Bath needing a miracle to reach the play-offs this season.