Leicester broke a try drought stretching back to last season’s Guinness Premiership final – but had to settle for a draw with Bath.
A spectacular try by Dan Hipkiss just five minutes from time looked to have given the visitors the win but Fijian fly-half Nicky Little returned from the sin-bin to snatch a draw with his fifth penalty.
Hooker Mefin Davies was the man who ended the Tigers’ barren spell in the first half but Bath hit back through Matt Banahan.
Leicester gave James Grindal his debut in place of England scrum-half Harry Ellis, Grindal back in a Tigers shirt after a seven-year stint at Newcastle.
Little’s penalty opened the scoring on seven minutes, Jeremy Staunton replied with a penalty almost directly from the restart but Little edged his side ahead again on 12 minutes.
The fly-halfs exchanged further penalties to take the score to 9-6 but both sides were playing such enterprising rugby that a try was inevitable.
It eventually came from Davies, standing out in the left corner to take Moody’s pass, delivered cleverly through his legs. The touchdown ended a 274-minute try drought since Jordan Crane scored in last season’s Guinness Premiership final. Staunton’s conversion put the visitors ahead for the first time but the advantage lasted only 11 minutes.
Bath stepped up the intensity of their game and Banahan’s power sent him crashing through the tackle of Johne Murphy at the other end. Little’s conversion was just wide and Bath had to be content with a 14-13 lead at the break.
Little added a penalty soon after the interval, taking revenge for an illegal tackle by Anthony Allen. But the Fijian was then guilty of a late and dangerous tackle on Geordan Murphy and was also shown a yellow card. Murphy recovered but then clashed heads with Joe Maddock trying to touch down his own kick ahead and played no further part in the game.
Bath held out for the 10 minutes that Little was in the sin-bin and when the ball went loose from a high kick, replacement scrum-half Ben Youngs broke decisively to send Hipkiss scampering to the corner for a try converted by Staunton. But back came Bath almost immediately with a fifth penalty as Little punished a Tigers infringement in the loose.