Bath 12 Leicester 19: Goode's fine floated pass sinks Bath in downpour

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The Independent Online

This was a drab dress rehearsal for what many see as the real thing - next Saturday's Heineken Cup quarter-final at the Walkers Stadium.

A rain-sodden setting flushed away any clues as to how next week's show would go. Better weather would at least allow a more creative display, while a change of cast might help Bath's cause. Olly Barkley has recovered from his fractured thumb and his coach, Brian Ashton, said: "Olly is an international player and we would hope he would make a difference to our performance."

Watching a dour, dire display was another England player, the full-back Matt Perry. He won his 36th cap five years ago and has recently been battling a chronic back problem, but he is fit and eager for action. "I'd like to think I am in contention for next week's match," he said. "Brian knows I am ready to get back in the first team."

Perry might just be a surprise package. Bath could certainly have done with his experience and nous against the Tigers. Too often they kicked away possession, invariably finding Andy Goode, who merely sent the ball back, with interest.

The home side's handling was poor, and Ashton said: "Professional players should be able to hack conditions like that." Perry's assured hands, intelligent all-round game and direct running would have cut out a lot of the errors. Only the centres, Joe Maddock and the exceptional Andy Higgins, posed any problems.

Gradually the Leicester pack ground down their opposition. Julian White was immense, the tight-head using his strength to ensure Bath's front row did not dominate. Even when their pack was reduced to seven men after Lewis Moody was sent to the sinbin for falling offside the Tigers held firm, matching Bath's penalty with the third of Goode's four.

Bath did nick one line-out, but that was due to a Tigers error, and as the Leicester forwards pressed so Bath would creak. Penalties were conceded comfortably within Goode's range, and the England fly-half did not disappoint.

Goode has more than one dimension to his game, though, and it was his perfectly floated cut-out pass which made Leon Lloyd's run-in for his ninth try of the season a formality.

Success in Europe means a lot to Leicester, but a lot less to Bath right now. With relegation still a possibility, the Premiership will hold much of their attention for the rest of the season, whatever Saturday's result.

Even so, provided they are not afflicted with stage fright on a less familiar ground - Welford Road does not have the capacity for such a showpiece event - they might yet give the Tigers a run for their money in the Heineken Cup.

Bath: Penalties Malone 4. Leicester: Try Lloyd; Conversion Goode; Penalties Goode 4.

Bath: M Stephenson (N Abendanon, 76); S Finau, A Higgins, J Maddock, D Bory; C Malone, N Walshe (A Williams, 76); D Flatman (T Filise, 63), L Mears (P Dixon, 76), D Bell, S Borthwick (capt), D Grewcock (P Short, 63), A Beattie, M Lipman (I Fea'unati, 78), G Delve.

Leicester: S Vesty; G Murphy, O Smith, D Hipkiss (M Cornwell, 51), L Lloyd; A Goode, H Ellis (A Healey, 80); G Rowntree, J Buckland, J White, B Kay, L Deacon, S Jennings (W Skinner, 80), L Moody, M Corry (capt).

Referee: C White (Gloucestershire).

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