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.
Priestland almost broke 30 metres out, but an ankle tap from Jordan Taufua put him off-balance and he spilled ball, allowing Jonah Holmes to clear.
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.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
Big thank you to all of those following along on Matchday Live this afternoon; your support is invaluable.
There's a short break in the fixture list now, with Tigers next in action against Wasps at Welford Road on Saturday, February 15 (3.00pm).
Until then goodbye.
FULL TIME | 13-10
Priestland puts the ball over the stand for full time, and Tigers come away with just a consolation point from their arm wrestle at The Rec.
BATH KEEP THE BALL
Chudley steers his forwards through the motions as the home side control the ball in the closing moments.
CLEAR THE LINES
Another good contest at scrum-time on the Tigers line, but White boots clear with about two minutes of this game remaining.
Taulupe Faletau leaves the field, replaced by Matt Garvey.
Dan Cole is replaced by Joe Heyes at tighthead. Wells is now Tigers captain.
BATH TURN IT OVER
Tigers look to break out with the ball in hand as Wells runs a lovely line on the fringes, but Chudley snaffles possession as it comes back to the middle of the pitch, and White just about manages to haul down his man.
Chudley puts up a short ball for Matavesi to run on to, and he attempts to break the Leicester line.
FREE KICK TO LEICESTER
The Tigers scrum holds strong and gives Hardwick a chance to kick into the Bath half, but Burns returns it and the Tigers fly-half makes a bit of a meal of the take, just eluding touch and just about surviving long enough for the support.
WORTH FOR TAUTE
Jaco Taute takes his place in the dugout, with George Worth now on the field.
The Australia international can't find his man at the lineout, but there's a get-out-of-jail-free card in the form of a Bath knock on.
CROWD FIND THEIR VOICE
The home crowd find their voice for the first time in this match as their men break forward via a Freddie Burns-hack through.
The ball is into touch, though, so Polota-Nau will have a throw in.
BACK ROW CHANGE
Tommy Reffell is on in place of Jordan Taufua in the Tigers back row.
OFF THE POST!
Priestland's conversion attempt bounces off the post.
HOMER GETS IT DOWN
Bath full-back Tom Homer gets on the end of a sweeping move in Tigers' half, and he touches down in the corner under pressure from Veainu.
Beno Obano is replaced by Lewis Boyce in the Bath front row.
REID FOR EASTMOND
Noel Reid is onto the pitch in place of inside centre Kyle Eastmond.
TIGERS BOOT CLEAR
A nervous moment as Bath hack through on the right, but Tigers boot clear.
Spencer jogs off the field under his own steam as he is replaced by Ifereimi Boladau.
TAUFUA BREAKS OUT
Another big shove at the lineout sets up a maul towards halfway, and Taufua breaks off the side with the ball to make another couple of metres.
The ball comes back Leicester's way ... and it's the New Zealand back row who attempts the Harlem Globetrotter-style pass out the back, which goes into touch.
SPENCER BACK IN THE FRAY
Will Spencer takes some treatment and his team-mates have a breather, but he's back in the Leicester line for now.
18 AND 20
Sam Nixon takes the place of Christian Judge at tighthead for Bath, while Tom Ellis joins the action and brings Bath back up to 15 men following Bayliss' yellow card.
Bateman breaks through ... but he's brought back for a Bath advantage, so the ball is pumped downfield to Veainu, who blocks it with a shin and gathers to return with a huge nudge back towards the boxes here at The Rec.
RIPPED BY COLE
Tigers win back possession with a brilliant rip from new captain Cole.
TIGERS TAKE THE LEAD
Hardwick makes no mistake with the conversion, and Tigers get their noses in front by 10 points to 8, on the hour mark.
RESPONSE FROM TIGERS
Quick-thinking from White at the breakdown gets his second score in as many visits to The Rec this season, and it levels the scores here.
Barnes raises an arm on the Leicester side at the scrum, and Cole opts for another bite of the cherry. They pack down...
MATAVESI MAKES BATH DEBUT
Josh Matavesi replaces Jackson Willison on the home side.
CHANGE AT HOOKER
Tatafu Polota-Nau is on for Tom Youngs, and tighthead Cole is now Tiegers captain.
Tigers get in behind the Bath line, and attempt to smash it over for their first score of the afternoon ... but it's held up!
Frustration for the Tigers packs after some great work, but they'll have a scrum on the five-metre line.
Tigers rumble through the heavy phases once more, as they work themselves into the Bath 22, metre by metre.
Youngs meets Obano in a big way, before Taufua is wrapped up in the tackle and somehow gets the ball out to Kalamafoni.
BATH KICK CLEAR
The home side snaffle the ball at the set piece and kick clear for a lineout on the 22.
NOT QUITE THIS TIME...
Tigers go to the rolling maul once more, with the advantage of an extra man, but Barnes calls it short. Bath somehow have a penalty - we're quite sure what for, from up here - and so they'll have the feed into a scrum on their five-metre line.
CHANGE AT SCRUM-HALF
Chris Cook's place at Bath pivot is taken by Will Chudley.
Greg Bateman replaces Facundo Gigena in the Tigers front row.
YELLOW CARD | JOSH BAYLISS
Bath back-rower Bayliss is judged to have pulled that maul down illegally, and he receives a yellow card.
TO THE DANGER MEN
A huuuge Tigers maul rumbles all the way up to the line, where Barnes calls advantage to the away side.
White feeds out to Veainu and Holmes, who's just pushed into touch in the right-hand corner, but we'll come back for the original offence.
Veainu is back in action, too, as he chips down the left and almost gathers his kick to run in and score ... but a Bath hand gets to the ball first and it's nudged into touch.
Tigers will have a lineout in a dangerous position, though.
TELUSA PUSHES ON
Telusa Veainu grabs the game by the scruff of the neck as he powers through the Bath line, and it takes three men in blue, black and white to take him down.
...and it's through. Priestland's successful kick stretches the Btah lead to five points.
SHOT AT GOAL
Taufua and then Cole get over the ball at two consecutive rucks, but Bath somehow come away with it ... and win a shot at goal for a misdemeanor on the floor. Priestland points to the posts...
Tigers have a throw on the edge of their 22, but it's batted straight back into touch so Youngs goes for a long one to Taufua ... but it's not straight, according to Barnes. Scrum down.
Wayne Barnes sees nothing wrong with Hardwick's take in the backfield - although the partisan crowd do - and White slows things down by setting a caterpillar ruck before he kicks downfield.
KALAMAFONI CLIMBS HIGHEST
The Tigers No8 gets under a high ball as his side start at a decent tack in this second period.
BACK IN ACTION
Tom Hardwick puts boot to ball and gets the second half started in Bath.
HALF TIME | 5-3
One for the purists at the Recreation Ground, where Tigers trail by just two points at the break.
And that probably sums up the half; a knock on prompts Waynes Barnes to blow his whistle and signal for the sheds.
We'll have another scrum in the closing seconds of this first half, after the Tigers lineout creaks once more. The throw looked good ... but neither jumer could quite get a hand to it.
Tigers are pinged for crossing after multiple phases in the Bath half, and they double down on the error as they get marched back another 10 metres for back-chat with the referee.
TIGERS NUDGE FORWARDS
Tigers look to make immediate amends with some more positive carries through the guts of the Bath defence, with Olowofela leading the way on this near side before Kalamafoni has a go down the middle.
LINEOUT GOES AWRY
The second throw doesn't go quite as well, though, and Bath scrum-half Chris Cook has time to set his blockers before kicking clear.
THROW ON HALFWAY
Harry Wells climbs highest at the lineout and bats the ball back for his support, and White's box-kick finds good ground on the right-hand touchline. We'll have another throw.
THIRD TIME LUCKY?
Bath get the ball down the tunnel at the third time of asking, and Priestland breaks down the middle of the pitch off the back of the forwards' shove ... but Tigers kick clear and Jonah Holmes chases well to deny the quick throw.
There's a warning for the Bath front row as the scrum has to be reset, and the two packs search for an even footing on this old-school pitch.
EASTMOND TAKES HIS MAN
Bath are back on halfway after a bullocking tackle from Kyle Eastmond wins the ball back, and Hardwick kicks clear.
The returned kick hangs in the air long enough for Burns to go for it ... but he knocks on, and we'll restart with a scrum.
Tigers have tested Bath's patience with a stern defence ... and it seems to have worked in this phase. One of the backs stabs the ball through the line in frustration, but Hardwick collects and White kicks clear.
Tigers are back in their own quarter of the field now, and into defensive mode once more.
Facundo Gigena and Taufua lead the way with some big hits in defence, and Bath look to be all out of answers via route one.
TEAMS CALLED BACK
Olowofela thought he was through, there ... but there's a peep on Barnes' whistle as the two teams are brought back for a misdemeanour at the last lineout.
Lavanini receives some treatment on the floor before he rejoins his team-mates.
SHOT AT GOAL
Hardwick drills the ball between the uprights and gets Tigers on to the score board at The Rec.
OVER THE LINE
Tigers work the ball up to the line and work through the heavy phases, first Lavanini, then Will Spencer, then Kalamafoni ... all the big men have a go at trying to get the ball down, but once they eventually break through referee Waynes Barnes calls the ball held up.
We'll come back for a Tigers penalty attempt instead.
INTO THE RED ZONE
White darts through the defensive line and is brought down within metres from the dead-ball area. That's been Tigers' closest chance of this half, so far.
TAUFUA PUMPS THE LEGS
Bath cough up the ball into Tigers hands again, and you don't need to invite Jordan Taufua into a heavy carry more than once.
He engages the leg drive and powers through three defenders to make some metres for the men in fluoro-red.
HIGH KICK FROM HARDWICK
The match restarts with a Leicester throw, and Tigers look to the air again. Hardwick's kick is high and it's gathered by a Bath hand, before they run it into touch.
Ben White is the recipient of a quick restart throw, and he breaks from 22 down to 22, but Bath win a penalty and the ball is theirs once more.
HEAD INJURY ASSESSMENT
Aled Brew is replaced by No22 Freddie Burns.
BATH FIRE THEIR SHOTS
The men in blue, black and white win the ball back for their first real possession in a little while, and fire a shot down the left - making a half break - but Tigers hold strong.
OLOWOFELA CLOSES THE DOOR
Tigers put the ball through hands as they make the most of their possession, before Hardwick threads another dink through the line.
Priestland goes for the clearance kick, but Olowofela is there and it bounces off the wing into touch.
Hardwick won't be happy with that one ... the attempt is one of those kicks that doesn't look right from the moment it leaves the tee.
Tigers set up a powerful driving maul from their throw, before Dan Cole breaks out with the ball after it's intentionally brought down by the home pack.
He's tackled to the ground, so we'll come back for the penalty ... and Hardwick points to the posts.
The game swings again as Tigers win the ball, and Ben White pokes it through for Tigers throw in the home 22.
Stuart Hooper's men win possession back, but the attention of Harry Wells and Lavanini - and almost a charge down from scrum-half White - mean the touchfinder from Priestland is poor.
PENALTY ON THE FLOOR
...but all that nice work is undone moments later as Tigers give away a penalty at the next breakdown, and Priestland pins the ball into touch.
Bath have a lineout just beyond Leicester's 10-metre line.
Hardwick does well to pounce on a loosely bouncing ball on what looks like a difficult surface, and passes out to Kyle Eastmond and Jaco Taute, with the South African centre finding Jordan Olowofela with a nice pass back inside.
The Tigers pack look to wrestle back the momentum in this game, and Will Spencer makes a half-break against his former club to put Leicester on the front foot.
THREAD THE NEEDLE
Tomás Lavanini hands off a Bath forward, before he's crunched by Beno Obano. Tom Hardwick takes the territory by threading through a neat kick into touch, just inside the home 22.
JUST THE FIVE
Priestland's touchline conversion attempt is to the left, so Bath's lead is five points.
SCORE IN THE CORNER
The Bath forwards batter down the Leicester door, work the overlap, and put Tom Homer over on the left-hand side.
Both teams look for territory in the early salvos, with Bath drawing a lineout on the edge of the Tigers 22, but the throw squeaks to the right - and into the arms of a grateful Dan Cole - but we'll restart with a home scrum.
There's a (very) late change for the home side, as No11 Ruaridh McConnochie pulls up in the warm-up. He's replaced by Aled Brew on the left wing.
KICK-OFF FROM THE REC
Rhys Priestland gets the game underway in Round 9 of the Gallagher Premiership.
ON TO THE FIELD
Tigers take to the field, led out by club captain Tom Youngs.
FIVE MINUTES TO GO
Boris takes one of his props, Joe Heyes, out for a walk as Tigers run through their final warm-ups. Both teams head up the tunnel with five minutes to go until kick-off.
CONFIRMED TEAM NEWS
Internationals Tomás Lavanini, Telusa Veainu and Jonah Holmes return to the starting line-up for this afternoon’s fixture.
After securing a place in the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals since the last league game, Tigers call on Lavanini at lock in a pack which also includes Dan Cole and Jordan Taufua, who started among the replacements in Pau last weekend.
Harry Wells makes a 50th Premiership appearance as he joins Taufua and Sione Kalamafoni in the back row.
Veainu and Holmes are joined by Jordan Olowofela in the back three, with Jaco Taute and Kyle Eastmond reunited at centre after sitting out last weekend.
Mike Williams, who moved from Welford Road to Bath last summer, starts at flanker in blue, black and white, while former Tigers fly-half Freddie Burns takes a place among the replacements.
England international wing Semesa Rokoduguni makes his 150th club appearance in a side captained by Rhys Priestland.
See the full match line-ups by clicking here, or scrolling down on this page.
BATEMAN TALKS UP SQUAD COMPETITION
Tigers front-rower Greg Bateman says competition for places in the wider Leicester squad can only help improve the depth of the side.
“I think that’s the only way that you can keep a good performance environment – if you’ve got lads chomping at the bit for your space and you’re chomping at the bit for somebody else’s,” he said.
“True competition is what breeds that performance environment and the quality of the squad we’ve got has got better over the last couple of years so I think we’re in a pretty good spot.”
Coming up against a physical Bath pack this afternoon will be a big test of that depth – particularly among the forwards, according to Bateman.
He added: “It’s going to be a big job for the pack as they pride themselves on their ability in the scrum and the driving maul, but so do we.”
You can see more of Bateman’s chat with LeicesterTigers.com here.
REID PREDICTS ‘TOUGH CHALLENGE’ AT THE REC
While Tigers will be shorn of a handful of their international stars for this league clash, Noel Reid has insisted that the remaining experience in the camp, plus the young players blooded in European competition, will stand the club in good stead this afternoon.
“We’re missing a few internationals, but the bulk of the squad that has played in the majority of the games so far this season is still here,” he explained mid-week.
“As a group, we’ve had a good start to the training week, and we want to continue that into the weekend.
“Bath will serve a tough challenge, but a win would really set us up nicely for the next block of games and would give us even more confidence and momentum, and put us in an even better place.”
Read the inside back’s full preview of this Round 9 match, right here.
MATCH PREVIEW | TIGERS RETURN TO THE REC
Leicester Tigers make a second visit of the season to Bath’s Recreation Ground this afternoon in Round 9 of the Gallagher Premiership.
Back in October, Tigers won a Premiership Rugby Cup fixture on their rivals’ home patch in the 198th meeting of the clubs.
On that occasion, academy graduates Tommy Reffell and Ben White scored the tries in an 18-7 victory over the men in blue, black and white.
Bath, though, have lost just one of the last five Premiership meetings with their old rivals – with the Leicester win coming at Twickenham in April 2018.
See all the important facts and stats in our full match preview here, or scroll down on this page.
WELCOME TO MATCHDAY LIVE!
We’re LIVE from the Recreation Ground for Leicester Tigers’ Gallagher Premiership fixture with Bath Rugby, with kick-off to come at 3.00pm.
Follow all the action as it happens with our Matchday Live coverage, right here on the Tigers App and LeicesterTigers.com.