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Leicester leave it late to beat Bath

22 Sep 2007
Leicester leave it late to beat Bath

Leicester’s late burst powered them to a late victory over GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP rivals Bath at Welford Road.

The scores were locked at 16-16 with seven minutes left after Bath had fought back when Andy Goode’s penalty and a converted Matt Smith try in injury time made it two wins out of two for the defending champions.

Both sides were looking to build on their encouraging opening day wins with Leicester starting their title defence with a 29-15 win at Bristol and Bath running in five tries against Worcester.

Fly-half Andy Goode was back in the Leicester starting XV after recovering from a knee injury and went into the game needing 21 points to become the fourth Tigers player to reach 1,500 points after Dusty Hare (4,507), John Liley (2,518) and Tim Stimpson (1,713).

Acting head coach Richard Cockerill also brought in flanker Tom Croft and winger Smith for Owen Finnegan and Ayoola Erinle.

Bath welcomed back England lock Danny Grewcock after he was suspended for the opening fixture, while Zak Feanuti led the side in the continued absence of Alex Crockett, with Andy Higgins returning on the right wing in place of last week’s two-try hero Jack Cuthbert.

Bath had won just one of their previous 10 Premiership games at Welford Road and took a fourth minute lead through Shaun Berne’s penalty.

Leicester prop Julian White had to be replaced just before the kick was taken with what looked like a head injury.

Tigers were level in the seventh minute through Goode’s penalty that came after Luke Abraham was illegally held up following good work by Sam Vesty.

Berne replied with a 10th-minute penalty to put Bath back in front and had to battle hard to hang onto the advantage.

Higgins produced a last-gasp tackle to loosen the ball from Tom Varndell’s grip when he was a couple of metres from crossing in the corner after a spell of heavy pressure.

Bath survived the onslaught despite losing skipper Feaunati and Nick Abendanon and went further ahead in the 22nd minute through Berne’s third penalty which put his side 9-3 ahead.

Goode pegged the lead back to three points in the 30th minute with another penalty and Johne Murphy came to Leicester’s rescue just before the break when he got to the ball in front of his own posts just before Matt Banahan got there to collect his kick through.

Leicester were on the front foot on the resumption, but Goode missed a chance to draw them level when he sent a 46th-minute penalty wide of the posts.

They were in front for the first time four minutes later with Murphy bursting through from 40 metres and Goode converting to make it 13-9.

Goode added a long-range drop goal four minutes later to pull Leicester seven points clear and Bath were dealt another blow on the hour when Berne’s penalty struck an upright and bounced to safety.

But they were level on 62 minutes when Rob Hawkins was driven over and Berne kicked a simple conversion.

Leicester roared back and Goode was denied when his 71st-minute penalty from 50 metres near the right-hand touchline hit the post.

He had an easier chance two minutes later from in front of the posts that he slotted home comfortably before Smith had the final word with a breakaway try which Goode converted to take his tally to 16 points.

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