Bath 43 Leicester 25: Biggest challenge for Bath is staying at home

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The Independent Online

When Bath are very good they are dazzling. And in the last 20 minutes of an enthralling Guinness Premiership contest, they ran Leicester off the Recreation Ground.

The problem is that Bath might find themselves run off their home of 111 years if they fail to convince an independent strategic review, set up to examine their tenancy of the Rec, of their value to the community and the city.

The club are desperate to develop the ground and bring it up to scratch by 2010, when a new set of criteria will be introduced by Premier Rugby. Unfortunately, in order to increase capacity to the necessary 15,000, Bath need to increase the size of their end of a Charity Commission-controlled public amenity.

They have 63 years remaining on the lease for the bulk of the ground but there is an additional strip which accommodates the temporary East Stand, which takes the capacity to 10,600. A one-year lease on this extra land was granted by the commission last month but there is no guarantee the club will get a renewal next season.

"The priority is developing the ground," said Bob Calleja, the club's chief executive. "Although we would want to know by January or February at the latest that we can play on in 2007-08, if we can't develop the ground we would have to resort to a legal challenge."

The club has launched a public campaign, with Calleja insisting: "We will fight 100 per cent to stay here. We want to exist and prosper in the heart of Bath, not anywhere else. We will only move if forced to do so." That is why performances such as this one are so important.

Admittedly, Leicester were dealt a stacked deck when their powerful prop Alex Moreno strained a calf in the warm-up. Luckily Marcos Ayerza, an Argentine front-row specialist, was in the stand as a spectator. He was called on to the bench with Martin Castrogiovanni starting. Bath had a similar problem, with their first-choice loose-head, David Flatman, pulling out with a sore heel.

There was a ding-dong first half with a yellow card for each team. But the second half was a disciplinary disaster for Leicester. They lost two more players to the sin bin, reducing them to 14 men for 20 telling minutes.

The England coach, Andy Robinson, will be anxious to see the medical bulletins from each club, particularly regarding injuries suffered by two locks, Leicester's Ben Kay (left shoulder) and Bath's captain, Steve Borthwick (right knee).

Bath: Tries Borthwick, Fea'unati, Abendanon, Maddock; Conversion Barkley; Penalties Barkley 6, Malone. Leicester: Try Bemand; Conversion Goode; Penalties Goode 5; Drop goal Vesty.

Bath: N Abendanon; M Stephenson (A Higgins, 61), S Berne, O Barkley, J Maddock; C Malone, N Walshe; D Barnes, L Mears (R Hawkins, 80), D Bell, S Borthwick (R Fidler, 65) (capt), D Grewcock, P Short, G Delve, I Fea'unati (C Goodman, 80).

Leicester: S Vesty; S Rabeni, D Gibson (D Hipkiss, 56), M Cornwell, T Varndell; A Goode, S Bemand (F Murphy, 67); M Castrogiovanni (M Ayerza, 70), G Chuter (J Buckland, 67), J White, J Hamilton, B Kay (B Deacon, 40), L Deacon, L Abraham (H Tuilagi, 60; M Smith, 76), M Corry (capt).

Referee: D Pearson (Northumberland).

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