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Cup campaign off to winning start on the road

Figure image
Leicester Tigers got their Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign off to a winning start with a 21-20 victory over Bath Rugby on Friday night.

Tigers, winners of the competition in 2012, dominated long periods of the game at the Recreation Ground to build a commanding 21-8 lead after an hour.
 
Luke Hamilton scored his first try in Leicester colours, George Catchpole scored his second try in as many games while Freddie Burns’s boot kept the scoreboard ticking over.
 
But with injuries forcing Tigers into a series of changes, particularly in the backline, and a yellow card for Pat Cilliers on his debut, the team had to dig deep and show their character to withstand a Bath fightback, who scored late tries through Jeff Williams and Dan Bowden.
 
Tigers gave first starts to Academy product George Worth and Argentina international Tomas Leonardi, while South Africa international Cilliers and Fred Tuilagi were in line for their club debuts from the bench.
 
Back-rower Tom Croft recovered from a back injury to claim a place in the matchday 23 for the first time this season. Greg Bateman, who has already played at hooker and tighthead prop this season, started at loosehead, and there was a first start of the season for flanker Will Evans and a first appearance for prop Fraser Balmain. Matt Smith captained the side.
 
Former Tigers hooker Michael van Vuuren started in the Bath front row, while ex-Tiger Dan Bowden lined up at centre.
 
Tigers were up in Bath faces early on, forcing them back to their own 22. But fly-half Adam Hastings, showed good awareness to chip into space and force Freddie Burns to gather. Burns was swamped by home defenders and conceded the penalty, which Hastings knocked over for an early Bath lead.
 
Hastings was at the heart of things as Bath extended their lead through the first try at 10 minutes. His first-time pass under pressure found Jack Wilson to score at the left-hand corner and put Bath 8-0 ahead.
 
The Tigers response was immediate. Bateman squeezed through a gap despite the attentions of two defenders and set the ball up 5m out. Hamilton was next round the corner to score next to the posts. Burns converted to leave Tigers 8-7 down after 15 minutes.
 
Burns’s accurate kick to the corner gave Tigers field position. And when Bath failed to exit their prop Beno Obano was pinged for hands in the ruck and Burns landed the penalty to give Tigers the lead for the first time.
 
It was all Tigers at this stage and their endeavour was rewarded with a second try on 25 minutes. The move began with a lineout on the right of the Bath 22 and after Thacker had sucked in defenders with a run off the back, Worth’s lovely pass gave Catchpole a run to the left corner. Unconverted, Tigers led 15-8.
 
Will Evans, on his first start of the season, latched onto Zach Mercer to win the holding-on penalty but Burns pushed his kick across the posts.
 
Tigers withstood a barrage of Bath pressure in their 22 shortly before the break. The hosts sent wave after wave onto the Tigers defence, which stood firm and eventually won a penalty 5m out to ease the pressure.
 
Smith was hurt in the defensive set and came off to be replaced by Oli Bryant, while Joe Maksymiw, who limped off at half-time, was replaced by Croft for the second period.
 
Tigers began the half brightly but were unable to make the most of promising positions in the Bath 22 created by a bullocking run by Thacker off the back of a lineout and a kick return from Worth.
 
However, a penalty at scrum time against Shaun Knight allowed Burns to kick the first points of the second half and move Leicester 18-8 ahead.
 
Tigers were forced into another replacement, with Catchpole nursing a knock to his leg and replaced by Sam Harrison.
 
Burns extended the Leicester lead by another three points in the 52nd minute after Guy Mercer was whistled for kicking the ball out of Kitto’s hands.
 
Tuilagi and Cilliers replaced Leonardi and Fraser Balmain respectively to make their Tigers debuts. Charlie Thacker then came on for Brady, who left the field for a HIA.

Cilliers had been the pitch for three minutes when his tackle from an offside position saw him receive a yellow card from referee Dan Jones. It got the home crowd involved for the first time in the second period but their howls were those of frustration moments later when Tigers sacked the lineout drive and won the scrum put-in.
 
Riccardo Brugnara replaced Charlie Thacker for the scrum, Bateman moving to tighthead to make way for the Italian prop.
 
The changes disrupted Tigers in defence and Bath took advantage with 15 minutes remaining. The hosts secured loose ball on halfway and Zach Mercer barrelled a path down the right, popped his pass inside for Jeff Williams to score. It went unconverted as Tigers led 21-13.
 
Brady returned from his HIA for Burns, who had cramp.
 
Worth took over kicking duties and soon had a penalty attempt after Van Vuuren came in at the side of a ruck. However, he was wide with his kick before Tigers were back to 15 men after Cilliers’s sin bin period ended.
 
Tigers put together a solid defensive set deep in their own 22 as Bath finally found their attacking game. But with no way through around the fringes, Bowden flung a long pass wide that ended with Rory Jennings tackled into touch.
 
The Bath pressure finally told with five minutes remaining. This time Tigers ran out of defenders as they fought frantically on their line and Bowden crossed for a simple score. Hastings converted to leave Tigers with a one-point lead.
 
Despite the relative inexperience on the pitch, Tigers showed great composure in the latter stages to close out the game. They played the game in the Bath half, kept possession and wound down the clock to see out their victory.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

BAT 8-15 LEI

FT ScoreFull Time Score

BAT 20-21 LEI

Attendance

13,723

Referee

Daniel Jones

Match Stats

Bath Rugby
Leicester Tigers
Possession
55%
45%
Territory
57%
43%
Penalties Conceded
11
8
Yellow Cards
0
1
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
97/115 84%
120/135 89%
Scrums Won
4/5 20%
3/5 40%
Lineouts Won
16/16 100%
8/8 100%

Player Stats

Bath Rugby
Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15George Worth
14
13
12
11George Catchpole1T
101C3P
9Jono Kitto
1Greg Bateman
2Harry Thacker
3Fraser Balmain
4Harry Wells
5Joe Maksymiw
61T
7Will Evans
8
16George McGuigan
17Riccardo Brugnara
18
19
20
21
22
23
Bath Rugby
Bath Rugby
20

Full Time

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
21

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
Darren Atkins
14
Jeff Williams
13
Aled Brew
12
Dan Bowden
11
10
Adam Hastings
9
Will Homer
1
Beno Obano
2
3
Shaun Knight
4
Elliott Stooke
5
6
Levi Douglas
7
8
Zach Mercer

Subs

16
Gabriel Oghre
17
Max Lahiff
18
Kane Palma-Newport
19
Tom Ellis
20
Josh Bayliss
21
22
Rhys Priestland
23
Rory Jennings

Preview: Anglo-Welsh Cup opener at Bath

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Leicester Tigers open the Anglo-Welsh Cup season with a trip to Bath Rugby's Recreation Ground on Friday evening (7.45pm).

Cup winners in 2007 and 2012, and semi-finalists in 2015, Tigers are head south-west looking for a first win at The Rec since the semi-final stages three-and-a-half years ago.
 
Both teams are without their England squad men this week as they begin the countdown to the autumn series, but Tigers are able to include internationals Tomas Leonardi, Pat Cilliers, Tom Croft and Freddie Burns in the squad travelling to The Rec. Bath include former Leicester centre Dan Bowden and hooker Michael van Vuuren in their 23-man squad.
 
Assistant coach Geordan Murphy, who takes charge of the team for this fixture, said: “It’s a good opportunity for guys with lots of games to get a rest and for guys who have been training hard and biding their time to get their opportunity.
 
“Pat Cilliers has had a couple of games with Nottingham, Tomas Leonardi has been training well and Tom  Croft is back to fitness. We’ve got a decent blend of youth and experience.
 
“It’s a tough place to go, Bath have a strong squad and will want a decent performance in front the home fans. But it is also an opportunity for the guys we’ve selected this week to lay down a marker. We just want to see them go out and play to the best of their ability.”
 
Tigers will wear the club’s acid green alternate kit at The Rec.
 
Referee on Friday is Dan Jones of the Welsh Rugby Union.
 
The two clubs have met on six previous occasions in the Anglo-Welsh competition, with three wins each ahead of Friday’s encounter.
 
Leicester’s last win on Bath soil was at the semi-final stage of this competition in 2012. Click here to relive the details of that meeting as victory set up a local derby against Northampton Saints in the final at Worcester’s Sixways Stadium.
 
Friday’s game is scheduled for live TV coverage with BT Sport. Or keep up to date with all of the action via the Tigers club website and social media pages.
 
Match tickets are still available from the home club.
 
Tigers' first home game in the competition is against Newport Gwent Dragons next Saturday. Kick-off at Welford Road is at 3pm. This game, and all home fixtures in the Aviva Premiership regular season and pool rounds of the Anglo-Welsh Cup and European Champions, is included in Tigers season tickets. For all other supporters, tickets are on general sale now.

Book at the Welford Road ticket office or phone 0116 319 8888 (option 2) 9am-5pm Monday-Saturday. Or click here to book online any time.



 
Form Guide
Form
LWDLL
Last Match
Lost to Wasps 44-52
Past Meeting
Lost 31-36
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Form
WDWDD
Last Match
Draw with Bayonne null-null
Past Meeting
Won 36-31

Matchday Live

Bath Rugby20
Bath Rugby
Leicester Tigers21
Leicester Tigers
Full Time