Francois Louw’s late try clinched a thrilling 27-26 victory for Bath Rugby to keep alive their hopes of a top-six Aviva Premiership finish and make Leicester Tigers wait a little longer to secure a home play-off semi-final.
It was the Tigers who led by a point at the interval despite being out-scored by three tries to two with converted tries from Tom Croft and Ben Youngs and two penalties from Toby Flood putting them 20-19 up.
But while Flood kicked two further penalties after the break to one from Bath’s Tom Heathcote, the home side secured the victory at the last when, following first-half scores from Simon Taylor, Semesa Rokoduguni and Horacio Agulla, Louw swooped for the bonus-point try.
Leicester began the strongest and after Bath were penalised for not rolling away Toby Flood put the Tigers 3-0 ahead.
Bath fly-half Stephen Donald was presented with the chance to level the scores just one minute after a big hit from Ben Williams earned a penalty but the Kiwi’s kick drifted wide.
Leicester failed to heed the warning and two minutes later the home side were ahead when Donald and then the rampaging Rob Webber punched holes in the Tigers defence and Taylor crossed for the first try of the game.
Ollie Devoto added the extras but Leicester hit back immediately with Ben Youngs changing direction before Croft stepped past Devoto and touched down.
Flood duly converted for a 10-7 lead but just as the Tigers were looking to build on their advantage they were caught out by flying Fijian Rokoduguni who intercepted the ball on half-way before sprinting to the line.
Devoto’s conversion attempt was just wide and after Flood kicked the Tigers 13-12 ahead from the tee they away side stretched their advantage thanks to a moment of brilliance from Youngs.
The England scrum-half took a quick tap-and-go penalty inside his own 22 and slalomed his way through Bath’s scrambling defenders to touch down and Flood duly converted to stretch the advantage to 22-12.
A fine break from Mat Tait looked to have created a third try for the Tigers but Matt Smith dotted the ball down he was denied the try for a forward pass in the build up.
The game continued at a relentless pace and though Donald failed to narrow the deficit when he missed with his penalty attempt Bath were to trial but just a point at the break.
It was Donald who provided the spark with a chip to find Agulla following a lineout and the Argentine wing was not to be denied.
Donald converted to send Bath in 19-20 down at half time and the gap crept out to four t the start of the second half when Flood kicked another penalty and he made it four successful penalty kicks from four attempts soon after.
Bath sent on Heathcote for the impressive Williams and two minutes later the 21-year-old slotted a penalty from distance.
Rokoduguni slipped at the vital moment and then Heathcote struck the post with another penalty as both sides continued to take advantage of the fabulous conditions.
Bath were never going to die wondering and after a powerful break from Anthony Perenise the ball was off-loaded to Louw who swallow dived over the line.
Heathcote failed with the conversion attempt but Bath led 27-26 with six minutes remaining and despite desperate late Leicester attacking the Tigers were beaten.