Croft piles on the agony to steamroller Bath

Leicester 43 Bath 20

There may be no such thing as the perfect "big hit" but Tom Croft got very close to it at Welford Road on Saturday.

When Bath's Olly Barkley was slammed on to his backside by the Leicester flanker half an hour into a one-sided match, seismologists around the country tapped their instruments and the cognoscenti in the stands knew the result and five Premiership points were heading in only one direction: that of the league leaders.

Croft's dexterous leaps in the line-out and exceptional pace have earned him due prominence in the back rows of Leicester, England and the Lions in the last couple of years. He greeted his new-found role of destroyer after meat-mincing Barkley with a degree of humour. "I'm not really sure where that came from. I was just in the right level at the right time. He kind of smashed my shoulder."

It made it sound like a voluntary act by Barkley; if so, an unwise one as the Bath centre retreated from the action with an injured elbow early in the second half, while Croft and his fellow forwards continued piling on the agony in the scrum and elsewhere.

Five Leicester tries to two summed up the balance of power between the old rivals. Bath did not roll over – brave tackles by Nick Abendanon and Matt Carraro kept Leicester's Alex Tuilagi from adding to his two tries – but their run of seven Premiership wins bit the dust with Barkley.

After missing most of the season including the Six Nations with knee injuries, Croft is hoping for a trouble-free run-in to Leicester's almost inevitable home Premiership semi-final and England's summer tour Down Under.

"Touch wood, the knee's holding up now," Croft said. "It's just good to be playing again, and the boys have got the club into a great position, top of the table. There are some class teams, but if each player plays better than our opposite man, you can't lose. We are playing exceptionally well but we have to make sure everything is watertight when we may not play that well."

The Tigers head coach, Richard Cockerill, was in a lather at the refereeing of the scrum and a perceived pooh-poohing of his side's quality. Leicester have won 11 out of 14 matches since mid-December and are odds-on to reach a sixth straight Premiership final. But if there is a sense of vulnerability, it stems from the three defeats, all away from home.

Scorers: Leicester Tigers: Tries Tuilagi 2, Parling, Allen, penalty try; Conversions Flood 3; Penalties Flood 4. Bath: Tries Maddock, Banahan; Conversions: Barkley, James. Penalties Barkley 2.

Leicester Tigers: G Murphy (capt; J Murphy, 70); S Hamilton, M Smith (J Staunton, 63), A Allen, A Tuilagi; T Flood, B Youngs (J Grindal, 75); M Ayerza (B Stankovich, 74), M Davies (G Chuter, 75), M Castrogiovanni (D Cole, 59), L Deacon (B Kay, 70), G Parling, T Croft, J Crane, L Moody (C Newby, 67).

Bath: N Abendanon; J Maddock, S Hape, O Barkley (M Carraro, 48), M Banahan; B James (N Little, 76), M Claassens (capt; S Bemand, 76); D Barnes (N Catt, 52), L Mears (P Dixon, 63), D Bell (A Jarvis, 76), S Hooper, P Short (D Grewcock, 48), A Beattie (J Faamatuainu, 66), B Skirving, J Salvi.

Referee: S Davey (Sussex).

Suggested Topics
News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
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

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam