Bath Rugby never lost their belief according to director of rugby Todd Blackadder as they fought back to see off Leicester Tigers in The Clash.
Two late tries from Anthony Watson in the space of three minutes turned the game on its head, with Bath eventually running out 27-21 winners.
They now sit level on points with the Tigers in fourth, trailing only on points difference, and are very much still in the hunt with three games of the Aviva Premiership Rugby season to go.
And Blackadder was quick to praise not only Watson but George Ford and Taulupe Faletau who played a crucial role in the win.
— Sharron Davies MBE (@sharrond62) April 8, 2017
He said: “We wanted to back up all the work off the field for this game with a really good performance, and we knew if we kept playing some really good rugby then we would give ourselves a good chance.
“I knew we would fire. Our preparation this week was one of the best we’ve had, and being on the back foot we couldn’t go into our shells, and there was real belief in the second half.
“Everyone played their part.
“George Ford was outstanding and really controlled the game, and I am just so pleased that our players passed the character test in that we hadn’t come back from behind before in similar situations.
“Anthony has got some gas, hasn’t he? He has got some absolute feet on him. He was outstanding.
“And I think Toby (Faletau) is back to his best.
“You need big-game players to really step up, and not only did he execute his role really well, he made a vital break (to set up a try) when it really counted. That’s what a real class player looks like.
“I thought he was back to his best by a mile.
“We just wanted to play our part in the day. Can we get 60,000 every week? It was a really special day for the club, and we have well and truly put things back on track for next week (against Worcester).
“To play here was too good an opportunity to turn down – it was a memory for all the staff, supporters and players.”
— Amy Williams (@AmyWilliamsMBE) April 8, 2017
Leicester had started the game well with tries from Brendon O’Connor and a stunner from Telusa Veainu, and they led 21-13 going into the last quarter of an hour despite Jonathan Joseph’s try.
But that’s when Watson struck, and Leicester assistant coach Geordan Murphy admitted there was some frustration at the way the Tigers fell away.
— BT Sport Rugby (@btsportrugby) April 8, 2017
He said: “We are really disappointed. The first 25 minutes, we played the way we wanted to, then I think we just switched off a little bit.
“We are disappointed with our lack of execution. I think we were in Bath’s 22 seven times, and we only executed twice (in terms of points) and that kills you.
“In the last 15 or 20 minutes, I thought we just forced things and made uncharacteristic mistakes. It is a lesson for us to learn.
“It is going to be a bit of a shoot-out to see who can probably pick up bonus points and hopefully get three wins from their remaining games.
“If we can go out and get our wins, then hopefully we will nick a top four spot. I don’t ever remember it being this tight, but it is. We have still got control of the situation.”
Bath Rugby: Watson; Rokoduguni, Joseph, Tapuai, Ford, Brew; Ford, Fotuali’i (Cook 73); Catt (Obano 66), Batty, Palma-Newport (Knight 56), Ewels, Stooke, Ellis (Denton 61), Louw, Faletau.
Replacements not used: Brooker, Z Mercer, Priestland, Homer
Leicester Tigers: Veainu; Thompstone, Tait (Roberts 48), Memoz, Pietersen; Burns (O Williams 67), B Youngs (White 73); Genge (Rizzo 73), T Youngs (McGuigan 41), Cole (Balmain 73), Barrow, Kitchener, Fitzgerald (M Williams 63), O’Connor, Hamilton (Thacker 71)
Tries: Joseph, Watson 2
Cons: Ford 3
Pens: Ford 2
Tries: O’Connor, Veainu
Pens: Burns 3
Referee: JP Doyle
Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final is on 27 May at Twickenham are now on sale. If you want to have an unforgettable day out at club rugby’s best Cup Final then click here for tickets.