Leicester Tigers took a consolation point from a 23-16 defeat against Bath Rugby in Round 11 of the Gallagher Premiership season at The Recreation Ground on Sunday.
A second-minute try from Jonny May gave Tigers a dream start at the home of their old rivals, but they spent almost all of the opening half defending their own line, with Bath grabbing two tries inside five minutes around the half-hour mark to go in front and they led 15-7 at the break in the final league game of 2018.
Ruaridh McConnachie added a third Bath score approaching the hour mark and Tigers could not find an opportunity to strike back in the remainder of the contest.
Geordan Murphy, who first represented Tigers at The Rec back in 1999, brought Brendon O’Connor and Graham Kitchener into the pack for the injured Guy Thompson and Will Spencer as he took a team there for the first time as head coach.
Tigers were making a first league trip to The Rec since May 2016 after playing the last two Premiership with their old rivals at Twickenham and looking to improve on a record of just one win there in their last 11 league visits. Murphy’s men were also looking for a first away win since beating Northampton at Twickenham in Round 6.
George Ford got the game under way on his first return to The Rec as a Tigers player, and the game was less than two minutes old when Tigers opened the scoring.
After some patience in attack, they were playing with an advantage as Ford chipped ahead and May read it well to claim ball and score. Ford calmly added the extras for a seven-point lead.
The restart brought an opportunity for a response as Matt Garvey snatched loose ball and Bath repeatedly attacked the line, only to be met with some stubborn resistance.
Francois Louw was denied a try when the TMO confirmed he was short of the line as he reached out, and the hosts then had a succession of penalties in the right-hand corner, building pressure from their lineout before Tigers timed their resistance to perfection and forced ball loose on the floor.
Ford then kicked upfield from a penalty and, although ball was secured, aggressive defence in midfield repelled Tigers until a knock-on brought another whistle.
An offside call against Jake Kerr on halfway gave James Wilson a sight of the posts, but the Bath full-back scooped his kick and fell short.
After Ruaridh McConnachie went close to the line from a long pass by Burns, Bath retained possession and Louw eventually got over at the base of the posts. But referee Doyle checked his final surge for the line and ruled that the No8 had illegally jumped over the attempted tackle by Genge.
He did, though, caution the Tigers ranks about persistent infringements close to the tryline as the game restarted with a penalty and Burns kicked the opening points for the hosts on the 20-minute mark.
Kerr and Genge then had to make big shots in defence before Tuilagi incredibly ripped ball out of Chudley’s hands as he reached to the tryline.
A knock-on from Tigers, though, brought another defensive set-piece and Jamie Roberts forced his way over to score, though only after a conversation between Doyle and his assistants as the international centre had hit the ground before reaching to dot down. Burns added the conversion to give Bath a 10-7 lead with half an hour gone.
Another try followed just five minutes later after Bath turned static ball in the centre of the pitch into attacking momentum,. Burns kicking ahead and then the forwards put pressure on George Worth near his own line before Sam Underhill picked up to score from close range. Burns could not add the extras from wide on the left, but Bath led 15-7.
Tigers finally got into enemy territory – for the first time in nearly half an hour – as May attacked down the left, then Jonah Holmes broke through broken field but play came to a halt with a Bath player requiring medical treatment on their own 22-metre line.
As Matt Garvey was helped off, Bath also lost prop Nathan Catt with the clock ticking into the final two minutes of the half and they managed to play out time with their eight-point lead intact.
Bath kicked off the second half and won the aerial battle for the ball before Brendon O’Connor stole valuable ball for Tigers. But the home side quickly regathered and it required a finger-tip tackle from Toomua to put Louw off a run to the line before the visitors won a penalty at the breakdown.
A powerful tackle from Genge brought Charlie Ewels to a halt as Bath looked to build again, but they could not get hands on the ball and required another O’Connor turnover in defence to close the door on another Bath attack.
Sione Kalamafoni somehow took ball out of a ruck near halfway but had no support as he broke clear. Underhill required treatment for an ankle problem and was off the field before play restarted with a scrum 25 metres from the Bath tryline.
Smart inter-play between Ford and May provided fresh hope for Tigers, and when Bath were penalised just 10 metres out, the Tigers skipper pushed the ball into the corner. But Bath ripped ball out at the maul and Ford had to sprint 50 metres back in defence as Rokoduguni punted upfield.
Tigers got through a series of phases in attack through the forwards before winning a penalty award .and Ford provided the first points of the second half as he cut the gap to 15-10.
But after claiming ball at the restart, Bath put it through hands on the left and McConnachie squirmed clear to score. his side’s third of the day. Burns was left with the conversion from the left touchline but saw his kick bounce out off the left-hand post with his side 20-10 in front,
Kalamafoni required physio attention after falling heavily as he contested a lineout on halfway and, with the bench already used, there as a call or O’Connor to return. Bath had put-in at the set-piece as the clock restarted with 14 minutes remaining.
Ford brought Tigers to within range with a penalty on 70 minutes which made it 20-13, but Bath were awarded one of their own for a high tackle on the Tigers 10-metre line. With Burns off the field, Rhys Priestland took on the kick and, although it stayed low, there was enough room to get over the bar and make it 23-13.
There was another chance for Ford as the clock ticked into the final four minites when Louw was penalised just inside his own half and the Tigers skipper made no mistake with the kick to bring it back to 23-16.
Tigers wanted to keep ball in hand with the clock ticking down, but Bath closed the space until forcing an error out wide on the left. The scrum provided one final chance as they looked for a bonus-point try, and Tigers looked for a tuirnover which could provide their own opportunity.
The decision went against Bath as the front rows dropped and Ford kicked 40 metres upfield but Bath crowded out Tigers as they gathered possession again and the home crowd joined the celebrations as the referee’s whistle blew for a penalty just inside their own half and the game ended with a seven-point gap.
Happy New Year
Tigers would also like to wish everyone in the Tigers family a Happy New Year and we look forward to seeing you at Welford Road next Saturday for our first match of 2019 against Gloucester.
Thank you to all the travelling fans who made the trip to join us in Bath today and we hope you have a safe journey home.
Bath 23 Tigers 16
That's the game
Tigers hold up the Bath driving maul and Will Evans almost comes away with the ball but Cooper Vuna rips the ball and kicks it clear into touch to end the match.
Tigers with the ball from the lineout work the ball across the pitch but the ball goes loose and Bath win a penalty, they kick for the lineout inside Tigers 22.
Tigers with a big scrum and we win the penalty, Ford kicks for the lineout between the Bath 10 metre line and their 22.
Bath win a free kick at the scrum and they opt to scrum again.
Semesa Rokoduguni is off for a HIA and Freddie Burns returns.
Tigers collect the ball from the restart and build phases back up to half-way but the ball goes loose in a tackle and Bath have a scrum in our half.
Gareth Owen replaces Matt Toomua.
Penalty for Tigers
George Ford lands a huge kick to win the points for Tigers and makes it 23-16 after 76 minutes.
Tigers have the ball from the scrum and work the ball across the field, Jordan Olowofela makes a good run after dodging a big tackle but Bath hold strong.
Bath are penalised at the breakdown and Tigers win the penalty, Ford goes for the posts.
More messy ball
The restart is messy and the ball goes from either side and end-to-end as Tigers win a scrum just inside the Bath half.
Penalty for Bath
Rhys Priestland lands the penalty for Bath to make it 23-13 after 72 minutes.
It's all running rugby from the restart as both teams look to hit back, Bath win a penalty just inside the Tigers half at the breakdown and point to the posts.
Ross Batty, Max Lahiff, Max Green and Rhys Priestland replace Tom Dunn, Henry Thomas, Will Chudley and Freddie Burns.
Penalty for Tigers
George Ford lands the penalty for Tigers to make it 20-13 after 69 minutes.
Joe Heyes and Jordan Olowofela replace Dan Cole and George Worth.
Bath with the phases from the scrum but Tigers are able to hold them around the same area of the pitch before Tigers get the ball.
Tigers build the phases and work the ball back into the Bath half and up into the 22 before winning a penalty at the breakdown, Ford points to the posts.
The game restarts with a Bath scrum just inside Tigers half but it is reset.
Sione Kalamafoni goes for a HIA and Brendon O'Connor returns to the pitch.
Tigers win the ball at the lineout but Kalamafoni lands flat on his back as the jumper and remains down receiving treatment as the referee calls time off.
Will Evans replaces Brendon O'Connor.
Bath win a penalty at the scrum and kick for the lineout between the Tigers 10 metre line and half-way.
Messy Lineout Ball
It's a messy lineout and Tigers come away with the ball but the referee calls knock-ons in the lineout and Bath have the scrum just outside their 22.
Ben White replaces Ben Youngs.
Tigers get the ball from the lineout and build a few phases before the ball is chipped ahead for a lineout on Bath's 22.
Campese Ma'afu and Mike Williams replace Ellis Genge and Mike Fitzgerald.
Side to Side
Tigers show good defence as the ball doesn't move forward but the play moves from the scrum out to the touch line and Bath win a penalty at the breakdown and kick for a lineout on Tigers 22.
Tigers win a penalty at the scrum and go quick, Ford showing his pace after stepping the defenders and runs into space but is brought down just after half-way and Bath win a scrum.
Bath create a driving maul from the lineout but Tigers hold up the ball to win a turnover and a scrum on our 22.
Cooper Vuna replaces Ruaridh McConnochie.
Bath with the lineout ball get the ball back into Tigers half and into touch for a Tigers lineout on our 22.
Tigers look to hit back from the restart, Worth takes a chip to make ground for Tigers and the ball is out wide to Manu who runs it up through the defence but the ball goes into touch.
Try for Bath
A messy restart and Bath capitalise as they get the ball out wide and quick hands puts Ruaridh McConnochie into space on the wing and he dodges the last defender to score in the corner.
Burns conversion hits the posts to make it 20-10 after 56 minutes.
Penalty for Tigers
George Ford scores the penalty for Tigers to make it 15-10 after 53 minutes.
Tigers with the ball from the lineout and look to build phases up into the Bath 22, slowly working the ball before Tigers win a penalty at the breakdown and Ford points to the posts.
Tigers win the ball and create the driving maul but Bath get the ball, pass out to Rokoduguni who chips ahead.
Ford is quickest and collects the ball, winning a penalty as Bath are penalised for going off their feet. Ford kicks for the lineout on the Bath 22.
Bath with the ball from the scrum but Tigers collect the chip ahead and Jonny May with another run down the wing before he offloads to Geroge Ford who find himself in space in the Bath half.
The ball is offloaded and Tigers build a few phases before Bath are penalised for offside. Ford kicks to the corner for a lineout.
Sam Underhill is replaced by Zach Mercer.
Tatafu Polota-Nau replaces Jake Kerr.
Tigers go quick with the penalty and Jonny May runs the ball out wide and up to the halfway before offloading and Kalamafoni finds himself in space. He goes for the offload but the referee calls it forward for a Bath scrum.
Tigers again showing a strong defence as another attack by Bath results in a Tigers turnover at the breakdown.
Bath win a free kick at the lineout and Burns goes quick but as the ball is worked out wide it is passed forward into touch for a Tigers lineout.
Tigers defence tested again as Bath run it wide and into the Tigers 22 but Tigers win a turnover at the breakdown and kick for the lineout on our 10 metre line.
Back and forth
The ball is back and forth from the restart as both teams test out some kicks ahead. Jonny May collects in Tigers 22 and kicks to touch but Bath get the lineout outside Tigers 22.
Bath and James Wilson kicks-off the second-half here at the Rec.
Teams are Back out
Bath are back out on the pitch, followed by Tigers lead by captain George Ford as we are about to start the second-half.
Bath 15 Tigers 7
Bath collect the ball at the lineout and watch the clock tick to 40 before kicking to touch to end the first-half.
Our Ball, Your Ball
Tigers win the ball at the scrum but Bath turn it over at the breakdown. Bath with a few phases before chipping ahead and the ball bounces into touch inside the Bath 22.
Jacques van Rooyen and Charlie Ewel replace Nathan Catt and Mat Garvey.
Tigers on the attack as Jonah collects a loose ball chipped from Bath and dodges his way through the Bath players before offloading the ball but referee calls time off as the play falls next to an injured player receiving treatment.
The game will restart with a Tigers scrum on the 22.
It's been all kicks from the restart and both teams have had the ball in the others half, Tigers building some good phases as we work up to the Bath 22.
Try for Bath
Bath with the turnover ball, crash it over in the corner for their second try.
Conversion by Burns goes wide to leave it 15-7 after 33 minutes.
Bath win the ball at the lineout and a chip ahead collected by George Worth in Tigers 22 is turned over by Bath as they look to capitalise.
Teams exchange kicks from the restart until George Ford collects a kick in our 22 and calls the mark, kicking to touch for a Bath lineout inside their half.
Freddie Burns adds the conversion for Bath to make it 10-7 after 28 minutes.
Try for Bath
We have a reset scrum before Bath go quick from the base and Jamie Roberts runs a line that breaks over to score.
We have some reset scrums and Tigers hold on to secure the ball but as we look to get the ball clear the referee calls a knock-on for a Bath scrum.
There's some huge defence from Tigers as Bath push closer and closer to Tigers try-line.
Bath work the ball across the pitch and Manu makes a huge tackle on the line to stop Will Chudely scoring and Tigers win a scrum the 5 metre line.
It's pressure from Bath at the restart as they kick clear and Kalamafoni looks to run it back Tigers are penalised at the breakdown and Bath kick for the lineout just outside Tigers 22.
Penalty for Bath
Freddie Burns lands the penalty and gets the first points of the match for Bath to make it 3-7 after 20 minutes.
Referee calls no try but Bath are awarded a penalty and Tigers are issued a team warning. Bath opt to the points and Freddie Burns lines up to kick.
Bath go wide at the scrum and look to have pushed their way over the try-line but the referee calls to check it...
Bath build phases and momentum as they continue to test the Tigers defence in our 22 but the referee wants to check something with the TMO as Bath are short at the line.
The referee finds nothing and Bath have the scrum in front of the posts.
James Wilson misses the penalty and Toomua kicks the ball into touch but Bath go quickly and look to attack the Tigers 22.
Bath chip ahead from the scrum, Worth returns the kick but Bath collect and as Bath look to kick ahead for territory Bath win a penalty at the breakdown and point to the posts.
Lineout and quick Ball
Tigers win a penalty at the lineout as Bath throw their jumper across the lineout and go quickly, running the ball wide and attacking the Bath 22 before there is loose ball and the referee calls a knock-on for a Bath scrum outside their 22.
We have some reset scrums and a few words exchanged by the front row before Tigers win a penalty at the scrum and Ford kicks for a lineout just outside the Bath 22.
Tigers look good in defence as Bath run the ball wide from the lineout forcing a chip ahead.
George Worth collects and offloads to Jonny May who shows his feet to find a gap but the referee blows for crossing awarding a scrum for Bath on Tigers 10 metre line.
Tigers win a free kick at scrum and Goerge Ford opts to kick, the ball goes into touch for a Bath lineout on half-way.
Tigers hold strong in defence and Bath knock-on in the driving maul from the lineout to give Tigers a scrum in our 22.
Tigers have a good drive at the lineout but are penalised for engaging early so Bath kick for another lineout.
Tigers are penalised at the second lineout for taking out the lifter and they kick for another lineout.
TMO rules the ball is short of the try-line so no try but we go back for an earlier penalty for Bath and they kick to the corner for the lineout.
Bath keep on the pressure and work up to the Tigers try-line and think they have pushed over for a try but the referee goes to the TMO...
It's all Bath at the restart as they collect the ball from the kick and look to attack the Tigers 22.
George Ford adds the conversion to make it 0-7 after 3 minutes.
Try for Tigers
Tigers have advantage as the play moves across the pitch and George Ford chips through the defence for Jonny May to collect and score the first points of today.
The match starts with kicking by both sides as both teams look for territory but a chip ahead by George Ford is collected, recycled and run out wide.
It's Tigers and George Ford to kick-off this afternoons match away at Bath Rugby in the Gallagher Premiership.
Here we go
The teams are back out on the field, Tigers lead out by captain George Ford as we are moments away from kick-off.
5 to go
Tigers have finished the warm-up and head back into the changing rooms as we prepare for kick-off just five minutes away.
Whilst you Wait
Why not take a look at the match preview ahead of kick-off by clicking here.
Less than 30 to go
Both teams are out on the pitch going through their warm-ups as we are less than 30 to go until kick-off.
Last Match of 2018
Hello and welcome to the Rec as Tigers are the visitors to take on Bath this afternoon in our last fixture of 2018.