Foley puts on brave face in defeat

Bath 9 Leicester 27
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The Independent Online

After the off-field upheavals with Jon Callard's departure last week it was little surprise that Bath would suffer a bit on the field yesterday, especially when their opponents were their arch-rivals, but it was not just the dust that was settling after the defeat; the new man in charge, Michael Foley, was also more comfortable.

"It has been a difficult week and an emotional one," admitted Foley, the former Australian hooker. "And I am very very proud of the way the boys conducted themselves, not only in training but also in the match." But there was not enough skill and nous on show as Leicester outclassed their opponents and Foley admitted that the priority was the appointment of a director of rugby. "John Connolly has signed for Swansea, but we need someone with his experience. Graham Henry the former Wales coach would come into that category." Bath certainly looked in need of some help. They suffered a savage blow with the loss of Ireland centre Kevin Maggs with a fractured arm, an injury which will keep him out for at least eight weeks. And throughout there were bodies invariably needing some treatment.

There were still vestiges of the good old days when these two sides were slugging it out for the top spot; firstly there was a sell-out 8,200 crowd, and some of the on-field, off-ball activity showed that Bath's lowly position in the Premiership had not dampened the traditional rivalry.

The Bath forwards drove ferociously at times, but Leicester were ever ready to counter. The scrums were a mess, the line-outs scrappy, and there were scraps aplenty as ancient scores came due for settlement. In one altercation Bath prop John Mallett was dropped by a beauty from Darren Garforth but a warning sufficed, two minutes later though, when Austin Healey found himself apparently on the wrong end of Danny Grewcock's boot the Bath lock was sin-binned.

The home side suffered in his absence, conceding a try while down to 14 men when Louis Deacon latched on to a huge miss-pass by Rod Kafer and lunged over wide out.

Deacon's deftness was quite a feat in the conditions, the icy, tricky wind would frequently pluck at the ball and teasingly tug it beyond the grasp of the intended recipient of most long passes, but not for Bath in the 35th minute.

Leicester, without their banned captain, still had a raft of talented individuals on whom to call. The unexpected loss of former All Black flanker Josh Kronfeld with a suspected broken finger barely caused a ripple. On came England openside Neil Back in the 14th minute and Tigers were up and running again.

With no Geordan Murphy because of injury Leicester were able to call on Tim Stimpson. His first match since mid-December saw him knock over five penalties and Ollie Smith's late interception try sealed it for Tigers.

Bath: I Balshaw; S Danielli, K Maggs (A Crockett, h-t), M Tindall, T Voyce; O Barkley, K Dalzell; D Barnes, M Regan (A Long, 63), J Mallett (S Emms, 54), S Borthwick, D Grewcock, G Thomas, D Lyle (capt), N Thomas (J Scaysbrook, 63).

Leicester: T Stimpson; S Booth (G Gelderbloom, 71), O Smith, R Kafer, F Tuilagi; A Healey, J Hamilton (H Ellis, 57); G Rowntree, D West (capt; R Cockerill, 66), D Garforth, L Deacon, B Kay, L Moody, M Corry, J Kronfeld (N Back, 14).

Referee: S Lander (Liverpool)