There is nothing better than getting one over on your Aviva Premiership Rugby rivals, and director of rugby Richard Cockerill was delighted his Leicester Tigers could put in a performance of old to down Bath Rugby.
Bath arrived at Welford Road with a winning record to protect, but Owen Williams kicked 17 points with Brendon O’Connor, captain Tom Youngs and replacement Ed Slater scoring the tries to give the Tigers a third win of the season.
And while the visitors still remain above the Tigers in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table, Cockerill was pleased with how his side stepped up their game to deliver a performance to remember.
“The performance was pretty good. It was a proper Leicester performance, which is the first time in four weeks,” he said.
“We did not let Bath into the game and we never looked like losing. The passion for playing in a Leicester shirt was right up there.
“A few questions had been asked, inside and outside the club, about how we are trying to play. I thought the balance was good, our physicality and mentality, as well as our skills.
“We had a poor start to the season performance-wise, although not points-wise. We had not played anywhere near how we would like.
“Today was a step in the right direction.”
Elsewhere, Wasps have made a flying start to their Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign and director of rugby Dai Young was delighted that their latest victory showed a style of performance beyond just on-field skills.
Given their toughest test of the season at Northampton Saints, Wasps needed Josh Bassett’s late try to secure the 20-15 victory at Franklin’s Gardens.
That was despite the Saints being dominant in the territory stakes, with George North crossing as early as the first minute before the visitors fought back – maintaining a 100 per cent winning record after four Aviva Premiership Rugby games.
“I think for a big part of the game we were up against it,” said a pleased Young. “We certainly didn’t win that game on structure and being smart. We won that game on togetherness and heart.
“We found a way to win and that shows a lot of character within this team, we certainly didn’t play anything like we would have liked before the game. We were second best in a lot of areas, but we stuck together and found a way to win.
“I’m absolutely thrilled with the start, if you had offered me this before the start of the season I would have certainly taken it.
“It has gone far better than even I could have hoped. Naturally, there’s going to be a bump along the road somewhere and it will be about how we handle that.”
Wasps now sit atop the Aviva Premiership Rugby table as Saracens suffered their first defeat of the season – going down 17-10 to a makeshift Harlequins side, with director of rugby John Kingston feeling it is a result which can ignite the season at the Stoop.
Charlie Walker and James Chisholm were both late inclusions due to injury, while Mark Lambert entered the fray within a minute after Joe Marler was injured.
And with Saracens battling back, Karl Dickson provided a steady hand when he came on for Danny Care to see out the second win of the season.
Kingston said: “The way they all played when there was so much disruption was really positive. You expect your big players to play, but those boys stepped in and a wonderful job.
“It must have been a wonderful game to watch, two sides going at it hammer and tongs.
“I’m just so pleased for the players that they got their rewards and an injection in belief and confidence which was very important for the season ahead.”
In the weekend’s other Aviva Premiership Rugby games, Worcester Warriors picked up their second draw of the season in a thrilling 34-34 clash with Sale Sharks at Sixways.
The two shared nine tries in the afternoon, and despite being 31-17 to the good, Warriors couldn’t hold on for a first win as forwards Neil Briggs and Halani Aulika crossed late for the Sharks.
Newcastle Falcons picked up their first Aviva Premiership Rugby away win since 2014 with an 18-13 win at Gloucester Rugby, while Exeter Chiefs got the better of Bristol Rugby 41-17 thanks to try doubles from Olly Woodburn and Thomas Waldrom.
Tries: O’Connor, T Youngs, Slater
Cons: Williams, Burns
Pens: Williams 5
Tries: Rokodouguni, Dunn
Cons: Ford 2
Referee: Matthew Carley
Tries: Visser, Walker
Cons: Swiel 2
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Tries: North, Kessell
Tries: Gopperth, Bassett
Cons: Gopperth 2
Pens: Gopperth 2
Referee: Luke Pearce
Tries: Shillcock 2, Humphreys, Arr, Olivier
Cons: Lamb 3
Tries: Addison 2, Briggs, Aulika
Cons: MacGinty 4
Pens: MacGinty 2
Referee: JP Doyle
Pens: Burns, Laidlaw
Tries: Waldouck, Tait
Referee: Dean Richards
Tries: Williams, McMillan, Crumpton
Tries: Woodburn 2, Waldrom 2, S Hill
Conversions: Steenson 5
Penalties: Steenson 2
Referee: Tom Foley