A Tom Homer try for Bath just 10 minutes from full-time denied Leicester Tigers victory at The Recreation Ground on Saturday in Round 9 of the Gallagher Premiership season.
Tigers fought their way into a 10-8 lead in the second half at The Rec before full-back Homer got his second try of the day and the home side held out for a 13-10 victory.
Making a second visit of the season to The Rec, Tigers were aiming to repeat their Cup win over old foes as the teams met for the 199th time in their collective history.
Homer's opening score gave Bath an early advantage and Tom Hardwick kicked the only other points of the first half as the break arrived with the hosts 5-3 in front after a scrappy arm-wrestle in which both sides defended forcefully but also struggled to create many decisive openings in attack.
The Tigers forwards got on top after the break, with a close-range try from scrum-half Ben White and conversion from Hardwick finally putting the visitors in front around the hour mark.
But Homer then dived in for the decisive score in the left-hand corner as they made five wins out of the last six Premiership meetings with Leicester.
Bath made a late change when Ruaridh McConnochie withdrew during the warm-up, to be replaced on the wing by Aled Brew, and were led on to the pitch by Semesa Rokoduguni in his 150th appearance for the club.
It was skipper Rhys Priestland who took the kick-off on a misty, chilly day in the West Country and they got off to a flying start with a try on five minutes, with Homer free to dive in wide on the left after the initial attack had been halted just short of the line on the opposite side of the pitch.
Ben White used a quick throw on the right touchline to get Tigers forward. But his chip ahead bounced unkindly and Bath were able to reclaim and the scrum-half was then penalised for trying to delay their throw.
He looked to redeem himself, though, just minutes later with a dart from the base of ruck which caught the defenders cold before being tackled 10 metres from the line.
Tigers were gradually building momentum, keeping the ball tight as Dan Cole and Tomas Lavanini carried up to the tryline. With referee Wayne Barnes playing advantage, play was eventually stopped and Tom Hardwick – who had hooked an earlier penalty wide – knocked over the kick with 25 minutes gone.
Kyle Eastmond knocked-on at the restart but, with advantage over, then made a superb tackle to relieve the pressure.
It did not last long, though, as a penalty pushed Tigers back into defence and they made a series of strong tackles 20 metres out before Bath lost patience and tried a kick in behind which Hardwick fielded.
The to-and-fro of midfield possession continued up to the break with the hosts 5-3 in front.
Bath had the first chance after the restart when Tigers were ruled offside in defence inside their own 22. Priestland’s kick made it 8-3 on 47 minutes.
A superb field of a high kick from Telusa Veainu set Tigers off on the counter-attack, forcing Bath to play into touch. The forwards then drove 15 metres up to the line. When the maul was brought down, flanker Josh Bayliss was yellow-carded and Tigers took play back into the left corner, only to be held up as bodies piled up on the line.
The Tigers forwards started to exert some control on proceedings with another set of phases almost within reach of the tryline. Harry Wells made the final push but was held up on the chalk and play restarted with an attacking scrum.
As Tom Youngs made way, Dan Cole took over captaincy duties and Bath were immediately whistled at the set-piece, with Tigers calling for a repeat. When ball stayed in the tight phases, scrum-half White made the decisive reach for the line to level the scores with his third try in three successive games.
Hardwick added the conversion as Tigers led for the first time, making it 8-10 on the hour.
A superb hit and rip from Cole in midfield won ball back and then Veainu’s clever kick ahead had Bath back on their heels, but they recovered to shut out any further progress.
Bath full-back Homer then claimed his second try of the afternoon with just 10 minutes remaining, finishing well in the left-hand corner to push his side in front at 13-10, though Priestland’s conversion came back off the post.
Tigers were then forced to keep ball in hand and play from deep as they chased another score, and almost wriggled free through Wells and Greg Bateman up to halfway. But Bath picked off the pass on the centre spot and Burns shifted play back into the corner to ensure play would be closed out in Tigers territory.