Tigers spoil Catt's day

Leicester 28 Bath 25
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Left to itself, life - and by extension its microcosm, sport - is perfectly capable of providing its own straightener. Natural justice prevailed in one of those fascinating twists whereby Leicester achieved victory over their great rivals by the same means that Bath had lifted the Pilkington Cup in the dying seconds from under the noses of the Tigers last May - courtesy of a penalty try for persistent infringement. This time there were no complaints or shoving of officials by either side. They took it like the professionals they are.

In any case, there was far more to occupy the conversation; primarily the performance of Mike Catt at stand-off for Bath - his preferred position. It is the one he wants to be selected at for England, and, if the British Lions manager, Fran Cotton, has his way, it is the position for which Catt will be selected to play on next year's tour of his native land, South Africa.

Cotton was on his first scouting mission in his lofty role and what he saw of the talented Catt in what was an otherwise disappointing Courage First Division match on Saturday prompted him to say: "England should be looking to play Catt at fly-half, there's no doubt about that. He is wasted at full-back. He has a bigger contribution to make at stand-off."

Catt has had just one game in the No 10 shirt for England, and that was against the world champions, South Africa, at Twickenham last November.

"Getting just 80 minutes as first choice fly-half at international level is quite hard," he admitted. "I'd like to think I could run an England game from stand-off. And I am employed as a No 10 by Bath; it's a job description these days."

Catt certainly looked comfortable in the role and his electrifying breaks - especially in a generally dull first half reminiscent of the pre-professional era, with both sides at times playing like a bunch of amateurs - lifted spirits briefly. Penalties were the order of the day until after the interval, when Bath finally woke up.

Catt followed up Bath's opening try by Andy Nicol with a stunning solo effort. He accelerated through a gap like a Williams-Renault, chipped delicately over John Liley and beat Will Greenwood to the touchdown. It was Catt who made certain of Jeremy Guscott's fine try, the England centre looking sharper than he has done for a long while. But it was a propensity to concede penalties - and silly ones at that - plus a poor performance at the line-outs which eventually proved Bath's undoing.

Leicester, still smarting from last week's defeat at Saracens, regrouped well. Even without Dean Richards (injured) and Neil Back (suspended), they managed to contain. The flanker John Wells was awesome and the tighthead prop Darren Garforth was a revelation in the loose, putting in some big hits on Bath's probing pack as they surged forward.

A string of five penalties in a minute close to their line, and the impending final whistle, finally prompted the referee, Ed Morrison, to award the penalty try for Bath killing the ball to prevent a probable score.

There was no panicking in the Bath dressing-room afterwards, though. As Catt said: "It's a long season and the club with the biggest squad is likely to come out on top."

Leicester: Try Penalty try; Conversion Liley; Penalties Liley 7. Bath: Tries Nicol, Catt, Guscott; Conversions Callard 2; Penalties Callard 2.

Leicester: J Liley; S Hackney, S Potter, W Greenwood, R Underwood (capt); N Malone, A Healey; G Rowntree, R Cockerill, D Garforth, M Johnson, M Poole, J Wells, E Miller, W Johnson.

Bath: J Callard; J Sleightholme, P de Glanville (capt), J Guscott, A Adebayo; M Catt, A Nicol; D Hilton, G Adams, V Ubogu, M Haag, N Redman, A Robinson, R Webster, E Peters.

Referee: E Morrison (Bristol).

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