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Match Reaction: Leicester Tigers 31-32 Bath Rugby

Match Reaction: Leicester Tigers 31-32 Bath Rugby

Bath Rugby ensured that they will play Champions Cup rugby next season, but left it just about as late as possible to secure the honour after Jacques van Rooyen’s last-minute score toppled Leicester Tigers.

Having led for most of the game, the Tigers looked all set to hold off Bath as the visitors looked to build momentum, and though Leicester looked resolute, Todd Blackadder’s men did just enough to cap a joyous victory for the New Zealander in his last match as the side’s director or rugby.

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MAN OF THE MATCH

While his counterpart may have kicked more points, Bath will be long indebted to the boot of Rhys Priestland after his clutch conversion ensured victory.

The 32-year-old bagged a penalty on the stroke of half time to stem the Tigers’ flow in the first 40, before a second on 65 minutes wrenched them to within six points.

And although it may have been a simple enough kick following van Rooyen’s try, the pressure weighing on his shoulders cannot be underestimated, but it was a weight that he emphatically refused to baulk under.

TRY OF THE MATCH

Anthony Watson toasted his 100th appearance in a Bath shirt in perfect style, opening the scoring after just three minutes with a score that showed him at his opportunistic best.

A flowing break led by Ruaridh McConnochie took the visitors up into the Tigers 22, Max Wright providing support before Will Chudley was downed.

No matter, however, for Watson was straight on the scene to pluck the ball from the felled Chudley to cross in style.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

There’s nowhere to look but van Rooyen’s decider.

While the opening stages of the match may have provided an hour of scintillating rugby, the final 20 minutes were for the purists, for every endeavouring forward out there.

Just as it seemed as though Leicester had done enough to end their season with a win, van Rooyen spotted a miniscule gap in the Tigers line and arrowed through with an expertly finished pick-and-go to leave the visitors elated.

WHAT THEY SAID

Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder said: “I’m so satisfied for the team and the squad.

“To come here to Welford Road knowing that we needed to get a four-try bonus point and to feel a little bit lost at half time really reinforced the resilience and the determination of the team.

“The boys backed themselves and ultimately got their just rewards for a good effort.

“I’ve got so many fond memories and so many really good people – all the little special moments I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life. It’s been a special place.”

Leicester head coach Geordan Murphy said: “Overall, I’m devastated for the lads. I thought they were really committed under difficult circumstances. But, unfortunately, that’s probably indicative of how our season’s been.”

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