Leicester Tigers were denied an away win by a last-minute Bath score at the Recreation Ground on Friday night.
In a first Gallagher Premiership outing since the middle of October, Tigers had led 15-8 at half-time and then by four points as the game neared its conclusion before Bath wing Will Butt reached out to score in a final attack to snatch a 19-18 win for the hosts.
Tigers had dominated the first half of the Round 10 contest with their old rivals after scores from Nemani Nadolo and James Cronin, but the second half was tighter as just penalties were added by both teams to make it 14-18 by the 70-minute mark before the final drama.
Steve Borthwick, with 10 players away on international duty, welcomed George Martin back into the forward pack where Olly Cracknell was given a first start in the No8 shirt. Tom Cowan-Dickie, Sean Jansen and Sam Edwards all made a first league appearance of the season from the bench, with recent recruit Charlie Atkinson running out for the first time in a senior fixture for the club.
Bath give a debut to full-back Jamie Shillcock and welcomed half-backs Ben Spencer and Orlando Bailey back from injury.
After the traditional Remembrance service on the pitch, Tigers got the game under way in their red shirts sporting the Poppy Appeal emblem on a bright and mild evening.
The visitors fell behind to a third-minute penalty from Orlando Bailey but were down for only a couple of minutes as patient and physical carries took them up towards the Bath line and eventually put Nadolo in one-on-one to the left-hand corner for the opening try. Freddie Burns added the conversion.
Front-rower Cronin showed his strength over the ball to win a defensive penalty moments later and Burns kicked to the corner as Bath were pushed back, conceding another penalty near the touchline. The lineout set up a strong attack featuring Nadolo and Matt Scott, but Harry Potter, starting the game at outside centre, was shut out in front of the posts.
Nadolo was involved again with a charge through the middle after Anthony Watson led the response to a clearing kick, but a Tigers knock-on gave their rivals the chance to clear.
Bath, though, were finding it tough to get out of their own territory, with a clever kick down the touchline from Richard Wigglesworth and a lineout drive which threatened to go all the way to the tryline keeping Tigers on the front foot.
Watson’s counter-attack brought a penalty for Burns to score from 35 metres on 23 minutes.
Bath debutant Jamie Shillcock had to react to stop a quick break from Wigglesworth and Chris Ashton on the Tigers’ right touchline but the red shirts quickly swarmed forward again, only for referee Tom Foley to blow for an offside in the kickchase just as dropped ball on the 22 gave the visitors a promising attacking position.
But Bath made the most of the escape as Ollie Lawrence launched an attack from deep which brought a try for Ted Hill in their first real attack of the night on 29 minutes. Bailey missed the conversion attempt with the score at 8-10.
Tigers immediately went on the offensive again and Potter was twice unfortunate not to add to the score as he was just unable to hold on to a chip from Burns in the corner and then was adjudged to have knocked-on after build-up from Nadolo, Scott, Watson and Ashton took play all the way to the tryline.
Bath remained in their own 22, though, with Olly Cracknell carrying strongly again and when the whistle went, Burns kicked to the right-hand corner. The lineout drive was stopped just a handful of metres short, but with the referee signalling another penalty.
This time, with lineout ball secure and the clock on 39 minutes, the forwards gathered and set up the maul for Cronin to emerge with the second try of the evening and a 15-8 lead at the break.
A scrum penalty early in the second half gave Bailey the chance to kick down the left touchline but skipper Hanro Liebenberg claimed the lineout to halt the threat.
But Bath had started brightly, carrying again through the middle and looking to counter-attack before having the opportunity to attack off a five-metre scrum. Tigers kept them out, first as Lawrence arrived on crash ball and then through the forwards. But when Bath finally lost possession, play came back for a penalty and Bailey added the three points.
Lineout ball from Eli Snyman provided a platform for a spell of Tigers possession until Ben Spencer read and cleared a chip into the corner, and a penalty near halfway gave the home team another chance to build in attack, only to be stepped by conceding a scrum penalty midway inside the opposition half followed by another whistle as they retreated.
Burns took on the kick from wide on the right and made no mistake to put seven points between the teams with quarter of an hour to play.
A ruck penalty from the restart gave Bath hope again, only to kick beyond the corner. But, then, they blocked out the clearing kick and gained scrum advantage from a knock-on contesting loose ball on the floor.
A penalty for a deliberate knock-on followed and Bailey kicked the points to make it 14-18 with 10 minutes left in the game.
Charlie Atkinson made his debut on 73 minutes and made a crucial catch from a Spencer kick shortly after Watson had made an important interception in the corner just as wing Will Butt thought he was on to a scoring pass.
Atkinson repeated his safe catch from another attack and Tigers then started pushing Bath back into their own half with big tackles from Martin and Harry Wells as they protected the narrow lead.
But a scrum penalty near the touchline provided fresh hope for the home team who kicked all the way into the corner with less than a minute left on the clock.
The tackling remained fierce as Tigers held firm, but Bath kept hold of the ball until, finally, the power and reach of wing Butt took him into the right-hand corner.
BATH SNATCH WIN IN LAST ATTACK
Bath Rugby 19-18 Leicester Tigers, the winning score in the final seconds of the game.
Touchline conversion missed, but Bath one point in front.
Bath have snatched it in the final attack with Will Butt reaching into the corner for a crucial try, they lead 19-18.
Watson intercepts chasing back to his own tryline as Bath threaten in the corner. Tigers still 18-14 in front.
Bailey penalty for Bath and they trail Tigers 14-18 with 10min remaining.
Good kick from wide on the right from Burns makes it 11-18 on 65mins.
Tigers defence stands strong on the tryline but referee eventually awards a penalty and Bailey kicks to make it 11-15 on 57min.
Bath will get the second half started with the visiting Tigers 15-8 in front at The Rec.
Tigers lead 15-8 at half-time with tries from Nadolo and Cronin at Bath's Recreation Ground.
James Cronin is the man on the ball as the lineout drive takes Tigers over the tryline. 8-15.
Potter so close to a score for Tigers but just fails to hold on to a chip into the corner from Burns.
Bailey conversion is wide, Tigers still lead 8-10.
Breakaway score for Bath, with Lawrence starting the attack and numbers on the right touchline giving the chance for Ted Hill to run in for the try. 8-10
Counter-attack by Watson brings a penalty for Tigers, Burns kicks from 35 metres to make it 3-10 to the visitors on 23min. Good spell of pressure from Tigers too.
FReddie Burns adds the conversion after the Nadolo try, it's 3-7 on 6mins.
Patient build-up in possession from Tigers and eventually Nemani Nadolo has a 1v1 and scores in the left-hand corner. 3-5 on 5min.
An early penalty for Bath, kicked by Bailey, 3-0 on 3min.
KICK-OFF | Bath Rugby v Leicester Tigers
Tigers, in red shirts and white shorts, will kick off, playing right to left as we look from the dugouts at The Rec.
Bath Rugby: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Will Butt, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ollie Lawrence, 11 Matt Gallagher, 10 Orlando Bailey, 9 Ben Spencer ©; 1 Valeriy Morozov, 2 Niall Annett, 3 D’Arcy Rae, 4 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Quinn Roux, 6 Ted Hill, 7 Miles Reid, 8 Richard de Carpentier
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Arthur Cordwell, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Tom Ellis, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Max Green, 22 Cameron Redpath, 23 Wesley White
HOW TIGERS LINE-UP
STARTING XV: 15 Anthony Watson , 14 Chris Ashton , 13 Harry Potter , 12 Matt Scott , 11 Nemani Nadolo , 10 Freddie Burns , 9 Richard Wigglesworth (vc) ; 1 James Cronin , 2 Charlie Clare , 3 Dan Cole (vc) , 4 Harry Wells , 5 Calum Green , 6 George Martin , 7 Hanro Liebenberg (c) , 8 Olly Cracknell 
REPLACEMENTS: 16 Tom Cowan-Dickie , 17 Francois van Wyk , 18 Will Hurd , 19 Eli Snyman , 20 Sean Jansen , 21 Sam Edwards , 22 Charlie Atkinson, 23 Phil Cokanasiga 
WELCOME TO MATCHDAY LIVE!
Wherever you are this evening, you can keep up with the action from Leicester Tigers’ trip to Bath with Matchday Live on the Tigers App and website at www.leicestertigers.com. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.