Bath unable to hold rising Flood in rain

Leicester Tigers 21 Bath 15: England fly-half plays himself back to form and fitness with flawless kicking display in wet-weather battle as All Black challenge looms

To play or not to play. Two weeks before the first autumn inter-national, against New Zealand, England's likely fly-half, Toby Flood, kicked perfectly to steer Leicester to a valuable Premiership win. He has let it be known he would like more of the same – action, that is – at Gloucester next Saturday.

Normal practice would see England players rest on the weekend before a Test but Flood has been short of matches since injuring a knee on the first weekend of the season. Martin Johnson, the nationalteam manager who was here to see something of an old-fashioned, rain-affected scrap, was due to chew it over last night with a former club-mate, the Leicester head coach, Richard Cockerill.

"It'll be Martin's call," said Cockerill. "Speaking to Floody, he would like to keep playing because he'll have played only two-and-a-half games in two months before facing the All Blacks which is not ideal, body-hardness wise and everything else. Johnno's pretty good, he talkscommon sense and I'll respect his decision either way."

Bath's former Leicester flanker and incumbent England captain, Lewis Moody, is even more in need of a run-out, after three weeks spent nursing a bruised eyeball. England have two other crocked No 7s, Steffon Armitage and Hendre Fourie (the latter having damaged ribs while playing for Leeds on Friday). Bath's head coach, Steve Meehan, said Moody would play at Harlequins next Sunday, six days before the All Blacks come a'haka-ing over the road at Twickenham.

When to rest in a cluttered season is a conundrum, and no wonder clubs go in for signings such as Leicester's Thomas Waldrom, who have no international ties, at least not for the very long run of a possible qualification for England on residency in three years' time. The New Zealander may at first glance look as if he has come to Leicestershire for the Melton Mowbray pies but like Quins' Nick Easter he is a No 8 rich in nous who knows where to be and how to dodge and steal a few metres in tight spaces.

Waldrom's skills were particularlyuseful in the pouring rain which accompanied the second quarter here, though the Bath back-rowers Simon Taylor and Luke Watson (the latter at openside in Moody's absence) had success at the breakdown. Both full-backs, Geordan Murphy and Nick Abendanon, ran the gauntlet of opponents sliding in for accidentally-on-purpose collisions.

Some might say that a repeat of these conditions would be England's best friend when they face the All Blacks. With four of this Leicester XV likely to start at Twickenham, it was intriguing to see how the Tigers fared. Ben Youngs at scrum-half was roughed up a bit by Watson and company early on but he played with an obdurate authority. Up in the murk and mire, Bath's scrum came under pressure from Dan Cole's tighthead expertise, but the visitors' lineoutwas solid and overall Meehan was delighted.

"It's our best wet-weather performance for bloody years," he said. If Olly Barkley had not missed two penalties in the latter stages of the first half, and been more decisive over a possible drop-goal two minutes into the second half, Bath might have ended a run of eight matches without a win against their great rivals.

Shontayne Hape, a possible centre choice for England, was seen mostly– and effectively – in defence for Bath. When his side occasionally made attacking ground in wide channels it was by returning clearances from Flood. The latter squirted a drop-goal over after 80 seconds and Leicester led 12-6 at half-time with three penalties by Flood to two from Barkley, from further out than his pair of misses. While Moody watched another returning Tiger, Sam Vesty, was trampled and bedraggled at fly-half. A counterattack down the left by Abendanon was held but Bath worked the ball nearer the posts.Vesty fumbled it between his legs while in a quarterback-style snap position.

Four minutes into the second half – and after Barkley's hesitation undid more good work out wide – Vesty, trapped in a ruck in his own half, conceded a penalty and received a few semi-friendly studs in his guts. Flood, who never missed, made it 15-6 and much later, when Vesty dinked a kick dead in a promising position, he raised his eyes to familiar skies.

With Cole on the prowl, Bath's front-row went down in the 49th minute and Flood made it 18-6. There was one against the head too for Leicester, after 65 minutes, by when they had been pegged back to 18-15 by three Barkley kicks. Flood kicked his sixth penalty in the 73rd minute and though he fell offside in his 22 to allow Bath a last attacking chance, it was thwarted and Leicester held on.

Leicester Tigers G Murphy (capt); S Hamilton, M Smith, A Allen, A Tuilagi; T Flood, B Youngs; B Stankovich (M Ayerza,4), G Chuter, D Cole (M Castrogiovanni, 55), E Slater, G Skivington, T Croft, T Waldrom, C Newby (B Woods, 75).

Bath N Abendanon; M Carraro, S Hape, O Barkley, M Banahan;S Vesty, M Claassens (M McMillan, 68); D Flatman (N Catt, 67), P Dixon, D Bell, S Hooper, I Fernandez Lobbe (B Skirving,73), A Beattie, S Taylor, L Watson (capt).

Referee A Small (London).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links