Anniversary honours went to Bath Rugby in their 200th meeting with Leicester Tigers as they took a bonus-point 38-16 win at Welford Road on Saturday
In the first home game since the end of February due to the COVID-19 suspension, a young Tigers team led with two early penalties from Johnny McPhillips before Bath took control with four tries in the 20 minutes up to half-time.
They led 26-6 as front-row trio Will Stuart, Tom Dunn and Lewis Boyce all scored after build up through possession among the forwards and wing Ruaridh McConnachie added the other with a smart finish into the left-hand corner.
Bath made it four wins in a row against their old rivals after tries from replacements Beno Obano and Tom De Glanville in the second period of a Gallagher Premiership Round 15 encounter.
Replacement hooker Charlie Clare added a consolation score for Tigers as reward for their best spell of pressure in the game and Luke Wallace added a second in the final minute.
Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick selected a team with an average age of just 23 and with 13 changes from the trip to Exeter in Round 14 – only Tomas Lavanini and George Worth backed-up their performance at Sandy Park – as Blake Enever, Harry Potter and Guy Porter all made their debuts. Ben White captained the team as one of 12 academy graduates in the matchday line-up.
And Tigers drew first blood with a penalty from McPhillips almost from kick-off after good work on the chase from Potter as Bath No8 Taulupe Faletau made the catch.
The fly-half returned to the tee to make it 6-0 with a kick from a central position.
Bath twice over-hit kicks behind the Tigers defence which Zack Henry was happy to guide out but they regained their composure to build phases of ball, all met by well-organised defence.
The first real threat came from a penalty 15 metres in from the touchline which Bath took into the left corner and, after playing through the forwards near the tryline, prop Stuart made the final push over to the right of the goalposts. Priestland’s conversion gave them a one-point led on 20 minutes as the teams took a short drinks break.
Another penalty led to a second Bath try from set-piece position on their left, with hooker Dunn the man at the bottom of the pile, though Tigers felt they had probably done enough to stop the maul drive before the final push. Priestland added the extras to stretch the lead to 14-6.
A third score followed with some incisive passing in the backline giving McConnochie his opportunity and he beat three defenders to the line in the left-hand corner. Priestland, with the wind swirling, pushed his kick wide with his team 19-6 in front.
When Tigers were penalised again, picking up knock-on ball in an offside position, punishment was swift again as Bath retained possession until Faletua was able to offload for prop Lewis Boyce to run in their bonus-point score with three minutes remaining in the first half. Priestland’s simple kick from the tee made it 26-6 in his side’s favour and it stayed that way into half-time.
In a repeat of the first-half kick-off, Tigers gained a penalty straight from the restart to the second period, with Nephi Leatigaga at the heart of the work in the tackle. But, kicking from just inside opposition territory, McPhillips pulled the kick wide of the left-hand post.
Samoan prop Leatigaga was at it again a moment later, McPhillips taking play into the left-hand corner this time from the penalty. But, after George Martin, had claimed ball at the lineout, Bath wrapped up the Tigers forwards and earned put-in ball at a scrum and a penalty of their own from the set-piece.
Joe Heyes pressured Semesa Rokoduguni into a knock-on as he fielded loose ball, and McPhillips took play to within five metres of the Bath line with a grubber kick but Bath stood firm as Tigers took lineout ball.
Moments later the visitors had their fifth score of the day, using the forwards again to good effect as Beno Obano pushed over from close range. Priestland’s kick came back off a post with the score 31-6 in Bath’s favour.
More followed, with Josh Matavesi charging through broken field to put Tom De Glanville in on his own for try number six. Ben Spencer took over the kicking and added two points to the tally as the lead reached 32 points.
Tigers responded with some determination in attack as Enever engineered lineout possession close-in. But, despite a couple of attempts to force a way over, they were eventually penalised a metre short and the chance had gone.
The second drinks break arrived as Felatau received a yellow card after jumping across a lineout to split lifter and jumper, giving Tigers ball in the same area of the right-hand corner. The throw evaded the fingertips of Enever but Tigers remained camped in an area 10 metres out until finally receiving reward.
After setting up lineout possession on the left, Charlie Clare steered a driving maul to the line to touchdown for the first time in Tigers colours. Henry was wide with the conversion attempt.
Play remained in the Bath 22 but the visitors proved hard to break down as Tigers looked for chances to chip into the deficit, finally creating space on the left where Harry Simmons wrong-footed the defence and popped ball for Wallace to dot down in his home debut.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
Thank you to the members of the #TigersFamily following the action with Matchday Live this afternoon.
We'll be back, same place - different time - for Tigers' clash with London Irish this Wednesday, August 26 (6.00pm). See you then.
FULL TIME | 16-38
Bath take all five points from this Gallagher Premiership encounter with a young Tigers side.
Henry misses the conversion wiht the final kick of the game.
Luke Wallace works the overlap for Tigers and gets the ball to Simmons, who offloads off the ground for the back-rower to score.
Jordan Coghlan dummies from the back of the lineout and breaks downfield, to put Tigers into the 22 with the clock in the red.
LOST INTO TOUCH
Harry Potter can't quite claim the offload on the right-hand side and the ball is lost into touch.
Freddie Steward - one of the few stewards needed in the ground this afternoon - invites the tackle onto him as he runs hard and fast at the Bath line, and it takes three defenders to bring him down before the visitors give away the penalty.
...but the arm goes up on the visitors' side and Matavesi boots clear.
Tigers scrum down once more inside the Bath 22...
MORE DEFENSIVE WORK
George Martin leads the way in defence with some big hits on the Bath line, and Cameron Redpath gives away the penalty on the far side to give Tigers another opportunity in the corner.
HARDWICK FOR WORTH
One Tigers Academy graduate replaces another as Tom Hardwick takes George Worth's place on the field.
Will Chudley gets his Bath side out of their 22 with a box kick to touch.
Jack van Poortvliet replaces Ben White at No9.
Henry's conversion attempt is lost to the wind.
CLARE CRASHES OVER
It will be his favourite corner! Hooker Charlie Clare nabs the ball from the back of the maul and crashes over to score.
Dan Cole does what he does best and draws the scrum penalty, and Clare will have another throw-in at his favourite left-hand corner.
Cameron Henderson is on for Tomás Lavanini and makes his club debut.
Leicester look to make the most of the one-man advantage in the corner, but Bath drive up to the touchline and the ball has to be whipped out quickly, and a couple of phases later the handling error comes to cough up possession.
Tigers win advantage and Henry throws a lovely ball over the top to Worth, who can't quite squeak past on the right-hand touchline ... so we'll come back for the original offence.
White looks to tap-and-go as the visitors give away another penalty, but he instead gives to new fly-half Henry who finds great ground with the boot.
YELLOW CARD | TAULUPE FALETAU
The Wales and Lions No8 is picked out as the final straw by Karl Dickson as Bath bring down another Leicester lineout, and he'll have 10 minutes in the sin bin.
COGHLAN FOR SMITH
Jordan Coghlan is on for his firts Premiership appearance at Welford Road, in place of Thom Smith.
THREE MORE CHANGES
Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels and Ben Spencer are all off the field, replaced by Christian Judge, Elliott Stooke and Will Chudley.
BALL TURNED OVER
Tigers looks to have the strength in the corner as Martin grabs another lineout throw, but Bath win the ball on the floor and kick just beyond their 22.
Tigers keep the ball after some stick-it-up-the-jumper stuff in the right-hand corner, as Dickson sticks his arm up in the home side's favour.
Tom Dunn has been replaced by Jack Walker.
Neat take from George Martin at the peak of the Leicester lineout, and Charlie Clare adds his bulk to the back of the surge.
THREE TIGERS CHANGES
Charlie Clare, Dan Cole and Freddie Steward are all on, in place of Jake Kerr, Joe Heyes and Johnny McPhillips.
Bath scrum-half Ben Spencer adds the extras.
THROUGH THE GAP
Matavesi finds a space in the Tigers line and feeds Tom de Glanville for the score.
The Bath fly-half is replaced by No22 Josh Matavesi.
Ryan Bower is on for his first Tigers appearance since his return to the club, in place of Nephi Leatigaga.
OFF THE POST!
Priestland can't quite add the extras from the touchline.
Another nitty-gritty show from the Bath forwards, and Beno Obano comes up with the ball from over the Tigers try line.
Tigers are forced back into defensive mode as Jonathan Jospeh takes the ball into the home half, and Bath seem able to find a couple of metres with each carry.
Lewis Boyce and Tom Ellis leave the field, to be replaced by Beno Obano and Josh Bayliss.
Harry Simmons hares after a Tigers kick-through on the left as the home side shift momentum, and Bath have a defensive lineout just beyond their five-metre line.
MAUL TURNED OVER
Tigers set after another Enever take at the lineout, but Josh McNally manages to swim through and steal the ball.
Tom de Glanville is onto the field for Bath.
The wind catches Johnny McPhillips' penalty attempt and the ball drifts wide to the left.
EARLY PENALTY (AGAIN)
Tigers come out with a real intensity after the break, and Nephi Leatigaga gets over the ball to draw a penalty.
SECOND HALF IS GO
We're back underway at Welford Road as Bath kick off in the second half.
MATCH ACTION | BALL IN HAND
George Worth takes on Ruaridh McConnochie during the first half from Welford Road.
HALF TIME | 6-26
After a bright start, Tigers trail at half-time in their first game back at Welford Road.
HENRY CHASED DOWN
Bath apply more pressure on this young Tigers side and full-back Henry is forced into a scuffed kick into the empty grandstands.
TWO MORE POINTS
Priestlands adds the conversion and Bath lead, 26 points to six.
Lewis Boyce latches on to the end of an iffy-looking offload to score the visitors' fourth of the afternoon.
Tigers snaffle the ball back from a dangerous Bath attack, and the forwards juggle it through hands to Ben White and Guy Porter clears down the wing.
Harry Simmons combines with Henry to find some space downfield, but Bath claim possession back and then draw the offside penalty from Guy Porter.
Potter claims a ball slapped back by George Martin, and he breaks one non-completed tackle to get up off the floor and find another couple of metres.
Priestland's kick slices across the front of the posts.
MCCONNOCHIE DIVES OVER
Bath flex the Tigers line and Ruaridh McConnochie runs an angle past two defenders to score in the corner.
Henry slips on the Welford Road turf under pressure from Anthony Watson, but he still manages to get the ball out to scrum-half White for a clearance kick.
Blake Enever claims Jake Kerr's throw at the lineout, and Ben White nudges Tigers into the Bath half.
Priestland gives his side an eight-point lead with a successful conversion.
Bath set their maul and Tigers initially halt it, but the visitors have another go and get over courtesy of Tom Dunn.
NOT ROLLING AWAY
Another peep on the whistle and, unfortunately, it's the big Argentinian who is picked out once again.
Bath kcik to the corner...
Referee Karl Dickson picks out Tomás Lavanini as the man repsonsible for interrupting the Bath lineout, and they'll have another bite of the cherry on the Tigers 22.
INTO THE 22
Zack Henry grabs the ball swirling in the breeze to free-up his backline, and George Worth spots a gap in behind Watson and Priestland.
He puts boot to ball and Bath find themselves under real pressure.
The two 'P's - Porter and Potter - combine off the shoulder of Johnny McPhillips as Tigers flex the Bath line this way and that, but there's no way through this time.
We'll pause for the first drinks break of the afternoon. The boys have got water, but if you're after something a bit stronger...
Rhys Priestland adds the extras and Bath have a one-point lead with a quarter of the game gone.
BATH SPILL OVER
The visitors don't seem to want to engage Tigers at the maul and they draw the ball wide from their throw-in, and they force their way over through Will Stuart.
BALL IN HAND
Bath boot downfield and the ball stops just shy of the try line, but McPhillips collects and runs up to the 22.
His team-mates regather, and there are a couple of phases onwards before the visitors win a penalty of their own and they look to be going to the corner...
IN AT THE SIDE!
The green wall is called upon once again as Bath put the ball through hands, but Josh McNally gives away a cheap penalty to allow Tigers a breather.
We have a couple of attempts at a scrum in the Tigers 22, but Bath give up the free kick and McPhillips gets the ball up to halfway.
There's a huge *thwack* - even from high up here in the Holland & Barrett Stand as Tomás Lavanini crunches Jonathan Joseph in midfield, and a couple of phases later Bath spill the ball.
Bath string together their first few phases of attack, and Cameron Redpath threads a low stab through, only for it to bounce dead.
Tigers captain Ben White will have the put in at the scrum.
Anthony Watson climbs highest to claim an early high ball in the glorious sunshine, but Harry Potter is right on him and forces Bath to go to the boot.
Zack Henry fluffs his first attempt to take it, but clears up from full-back.
McPhillips makes the most of the breeze to double his side's lead with another successful penalty.
Here we go - the first shoving contest of the afternoon ... and it's a Tigers penalty! All credit to Joe Heyes on the tighthead for that one.
McPhillips calls for the tee...
Tigers turn the ball over as Bath head up into the home half for the first time, and so fly-half McPhillips can kick to touch and put his side back into the visitors' 22.
TIGERS TAKE THE LEAD
Lovely stuff. McPhillips splits the posts and Tigers have a three-point lead.
Tigers set up a strong maul inside the Bath half, but the visitors pull it down illegally and McPhillips will have an early shot at goal.
KICK OFF FROM WELFORD ROAD
Johnny McPhillips boots the ball into the Leicester sky. Rugby is BACK at Welford Road.
RUGBY AGAINST RACISM
Ahead of this match, the club would like to show our solidarity for equality in our sport under the banner of Rugby Against Racism.
A message from director of rugby Geordan Murphy: “We are honoured and proud to represent Leicester and each of the many cultures our diverse city is blessed with.
“The club has never and will never tolerate any form of racism or prejudice in our sport or our community.
“A statement, a pre-game acknowledgment is also just a small part of what we must do as members of the rugby and Leicester community to educate people on why it is not acceptable.
“This is about our game coming together and saying racism will not be accepted, in any form.”
A MOMENT OF REFLECTION
All is quiet at Welford Road as we take a moment to remember those lost too soon and to pay tribute to the brave NHS staff and key workers in our community who have been working so hard during this challenging period.
FIVE MINUTES TO GO
Both teams have disappeared up the tunnel after completing their final warm-ups. Just five minutes left until we're back udnerway at Welford Road.
SUPPORT FROM HOME
Just because you can’t be at the ground doesn’t mean you can’t support your Tigers.
Make sure to use #TigersAtHome and show us where you’re watching from, and we’ll share some of our favourites here.
COME ON TIGERS!
TEAM TALK | TIGERS RETURN TO WELFORD ROAD
“This is a very, very special place to play rugby.”
That’s the message head coach Steve Borthwick has shared with his players ahead of his first game in charge at Welford Road.
He told LTTV: “It’s a very, very special ground and it’s very important to our players.
“But, we are very clear that wherever we play, wherever we are, whether we have got our supporters watching us or not able to be in the ground, like they are now, wherever we are, we want to make sure that we represent Leicester Tigers in the way that our supporters expect us to and the way this club demands us to.”
Watch the full Team Talk on LTTV, right here.
CONFIRMED TEAM NEWS
Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick makes 13 changes to the starting line-up from last week’s trip to Exeter Chiefs.
Tomás Lavanini is the only man to keep his shirt, with George Worth shifting from full-back to the No13 jersey.
Blake Enever (5), Guy Porter (12) and Harry Porter (14) all make their first appearances in club colours, while Tigers Academy graduate George Martin earns his Premiership debut in the back row.
Ben White leads the side from scrum-half, while Cameron Henderson could make his Tigers debut from the bench.
See the full match line-ups by clicking here, or scrolling down on this page.
MATCH PREVIEW | A DOUBLE CENTURY
Leicester Tigers and Bath Rugby meet this weekend for the 200th time in one of rugby’s most storied rivalries.
Going into Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership fixture at Welford Road, the overall record features 115 wins for Tigers and 71 for Bath, with 13 draws between two of domestic rugby’s oldest foes.
See all the important facts and stats in our full match preview here, or scroll down on this page.
WELCOME TO MATCHDAY LIVE!
There’s no place like home. We’re LIVE for Round 15 of the Gallagher Premiership, as Leicester Tigers take on Bath Rugby at Welford Road (4.30pm).
Follow all the action as it happens with our Matchday Live coverage, right here on the Tigers App and LeicesterTigers.com.
ONE HOUR TO GO…
Just 60 minutes left until rugby returns to Welford Road, albeit behind closed doors.
See what’s gone into getting back to the home of the Tigers, and how we’re working round the clock to get the #TigersFamily back as soon as possible…