Buoyant Bath tame sinking Tigers

Bath 31 Leicester 17
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The Independent Online

How times have changed. How Leicester have fallen. This was about as one-sided as they get, with Bath re-establishing themselves as Zurich Premiership top dogs with a fairly decent all-round performance that left Leicester gasping in their wake.

The Tigers looked very much out of sorts. Their teeth were drawn, their claws clipped. They lacked organisation, penetration, ideas and execution. They did defend half decently, and even threatened after the interval, but half decent was never enough against a Bath side prepared to run at every opportunity.

The signs were there from the start. Leicester did not lay a hand on the ball for the first 90 seconds as Bath strung together passes in a wonderful passage of play, with the ball recycled faster than you could say "ecology". The continuity was excellent, exhilarating even. When the Tigers did eventually get a paw on the ball it was knocked on. They gave away a plethora of penalties, Bath centre Ollie Barkley knocking over a couple of them.

The Bath pack looked unstoppable, a wrecking crew rampaging around the Rec. And when the forwards ran out of puff they presented the backs with comfortable ball and Leicester remained firmly on the back foot. The moment of the first half came when Bath launched what can only be described as a "Zak Attack".

Their No 8, Isaac Feaunati, was found in space 15 metres out following a spell of sustained pressure. The Samoan hurled himself forwards like a runaway tank. What cover there was quickly evaporated, until the 17st Samoan only had the 12st 6lb Steve Booth to beat. The diminutive full-back was flattened before Feaunati lunged for the try.

Leicester did get up into the Bath 22 on a couple of occasions, but were easily beaten back. By the time Bath scored their second try all the Tigers had to their name was a penalty from No 10 Ramiro Pez. That second try was well executed. Scrum-half Martyn Wood put in a cross kick, the prop Duncan Bell lumbered up on the right to gather and set up full-back Matt Perry for a simple try.

Leicester did look more organised after the interval and put Bath under unaccustomed pressure to gain two penalties, both kicked by Pez, who then exchanged drop goals with Bath fly-half Chris Malone, the latter's a superb 45 metre effort.

But Leicester could not quite get it together, and having lost Pez to a yellow card in the 67th minute then had the flanker Adam Balding sent to the sinbin for fighting with home lock Steve Borthwick, who was also dismissed for 10 minutes.

The 14 of Bath quickly took advantage of the 13 of Leicester, Barkley darting through and converting his third try of the season. Austin Healey got one back for Tigers in the corner a minute later, but Bath were well away.

Bath: M Perry; A Higgins, R Fleck, O Barkley, J Williams (T Brasher, 15; R Kydd, 76); C Malone, M Wood (H Martens, 79); D Flatman, J Humphreys (capt, L Mears, 49), D Bell (M Stevens, 68), S Borthwick, R Fidler (S Gray, 80), A Beattie, M Lipman (J Scaysbrook, 77), I Feaunati (Stevens, 59-67)

Leicester: S Booth; A Healey, O Smith, D Gibson, J Holtby (N Baxter, 79); R Pez (S Vesty, 79), H Ellis; G Rowntree (R Nebbett, 60-64), G Chuter (J Richards, 29), D Morris, S Campbell, L Deacon, W Skinner, W Johnson (A Balding, 45), J Kronfeld (capt).

Referee: A Rowden (Reading).