Moody leaves Bath in despair

Leicester 48 Bath 9
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The Independent Online

There was an overwhelming sense of sadness among Leicester supporters once the euphoria was spent, that a once great club, Bath, could be bundled aside with such ease and by a record score.

Bath were not remotely in Leicester's league, and probably will not be if they continue this terrible run for much longer. This was their fourth defeat in a row and the heaviest by a long way. They were not helped by the sending-off of prop John Mallett 10 minutes into the second half.

It was Mallett's second yellow card of the game, this one for illegal use of the boot. The first had been for fighting with Darren Garforth. Strangely, once they were reduced to 14 men, Bath found some steel and restricted Leicester to 14 points in the remaining time.

But Bath are sorely missing experienced personnel. Mike Catt has only just resumed training, although he may well start next week, Kevin Maggs was away with Ireland and Gareth Cooper was injured. But in these days of professional rugby, when the thinking has to be squad not team, there are clearly few excuses. The overall impression was that Bath would not have beaten a team of paper Tigers.

It was probably for old times' sake, but at least Leicester gave Bath the respect of fielding as many of their Lions as they could. Neil Back, however, was struck down by sickness just before kick-off, and Martin Corry tweaked a hamstring on Friday.

Newcastle were fortunate to catch them cold at the start of the season, because Tigers are looking unbeatable. They have such talent that the absentees were not missed. Back's stand-in at openside, Lewis Moody for example, was outstanding. His was a performance that should finally convince Clive Woodward that he is ready for Test rugby.

He was phenomenal from first whistle to last. He was everywhere that mattered, now thrusting into the thick of things, now lurking on the fringes; he would sprint like a thoroughbred through the wishy-washy Bath defence, or take clean ball at the back of the line, and then link brilliantly in threequarter moves.

Tigers have also unearthed a dangerous character out on the wing. Steve Booth, the former Halifax Blue Sox rugby league player, made mugs of the Bath cover time and again. He is possessed of breathtaking speed and quickness of mind. He can launch himself like a rocket from a standing start and the only unexpected thing about his try was that it took almost an hour for him to score it.

Tim Stimpson was in fine fettle with his kicking feet and the late try he scored brought his points tally to 28; it also brought Tigers' total of touchdowns this season to an impressive 17.

Their first here came from Austin Healey, a simple blindside move at a maul; the second was a polished effort from a line-out with fly-half Andy Goode finishing it off.

Moody then scored a marvellous solo effort from the restart, scorching 50 metres, leaving Bath backs as still as stone in his slipstream. When Aussie centre Rod Kafer made a great break and an even greater pass Booth did not miss the chance and sped through ragged cover.

And with the fourth try in the bag, off came Tigers' Lions, a reversal of their replacement policy thus far this season, leaving the youngsters to scavenge what they could from what was left of the game. Stimpson did the business, then converted his try and Bath were left to pick up the pieces, no easy task.

Leicester 48 Bath 9

Tries: Healey, Goode,

Moody, Booth, Stimpson

Cons: Stimpson 4

Pens: Stimpson 5 Pens: Barkley 3

Half-time: 34-9 Attendance: 15,145

Leicester: T Stimpson; S Booth, G Gelderbloom, R Kafer, F Tuilagi (J Naylor, 66); A Goode, A Healey (H Ellis, 60); G Rowntree (P Freshwater, 73), D West (G Chuter, 73), D Garforth (R Nebbett, 73), M Johnson (L Deacon, 63), B Kay (P Gustard, 73), W Johnson (capt), P Short, L Moody.

Bath: M Perry; I Balshaw, M Tindall (T Voyce, 66), S Cox (A Crockett, 58), S Danielli; O Barkley, A Williams; D Barnes, M Regan (A Long, 58), J Mallett, S Borthwick, D Grewcock (M Gabey, 58), G Thomas (S Emms, 52), D Lyle (capt), N Thomas.

Referee: B Campsall (Halifax).