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Leicester Tigers deny Bath the top spot

MATCH REPORT: Leicester Tigers have claimed a 35-22 bonus-point win over Bath on New Year’s Eve in front of a sell-out crowd at Welford Road.

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A clinical 25-minute flurry in the first half saw the visitors off, a frustrating second 40 giving Tigers something to work on ahead of the visit of Saracens on Saturday.

Tigers looked good from the off, winning the early collisions and working their way into Bath’s territory.

Despite their dominance, it was Tigers who would concede first, Bath scrumhalf Louis Schreuder pinching a pass from Pollard to score from long range.

The early knock didn’t dent Tigers’ confidence however, and it wouldn’t be long before backrow Matt Rogerson was muscling his way over the line, Pollard converting from under the sticks.

That score got the home side going, the forwards turning the screw-up front with their physicality in-tight.

The backs were in the mood as well though. Generating quick ball, scrumhalf Tom Whiteley pulled Tigers’ attack left, and quickly around the corner. With a slight overlap, Whiteley found a perfect pass to Mike Brown and the veteran showed his class to score on his first-ever Premiership start on the wing.

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In the lead, the Tigers went hunting for more. James Cronin and as next to score, the Irish prop burrowing under Bath defenders to score.

At 21-7, the Tigers now needed just one more try for a first-half bonus point, and Jasper Wiese wasn’t waiting around, the bruising backrow bowling through Bath off the kickoff.

With momentum, the Tigers worked their way deep into the visitors’ area and George Martin was simply too powerful to stop from close range. Pollard kicked his fourth conversion to make it 28-7.

Bath did knock over a penalty before the break, making it 28-10 as the teams ran to the tunnel.

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Tigers head coach Dan McKellar admitted after the game that the second half was frustrating from the home side’s point of view, but a penalty try forced at the maul early on in the second half certainly put Leicester in a strong position, 35-10, as Bath found a purple patch.

Leicester did have their chances to push on, but it was Bath who would bag a couple of late tries to make it 35-22 at the final whistle.

The scorers:

For Leicester Tigers:
Tries: Rogerson, Brown, Cronin, Martin, Penalty try
Cons: Pollard 4

For Bath:
Tries: Schreuder, Hennessey, Richards
Cons: Bailey, Harris
Pen: Bailey

Teams:

Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Harry Simmons, 13 Dan Kelly, 12 Solomone Kata, 11 Mike Brown, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Tom Whiteley, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Matt Rogerson, 5 Ollie Chessum, 4 George Martin, 3 Joe Heyes, 2 Julián Montoya (captain), 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Finn Theobold-Thomas, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Will Hurd, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Kyle Hatherell, 21 Olly Cracknell, 22 Joe Powell, 23 Jamie Shillcock

Bath: 15 Sam Harris, 14 Tom de Glanville, 13 Max Ojomoh, 12 Will Butt, 11 Matt Gallagher, 10 Orlando Bailey, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 GJ van Velze (captain), 5 Josh McNally, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Hame Faiva, 1 Juan Schoeman
Replacements: 16 John Stewart, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Ewan Richards, 20 Arthur Green, 21 Tom Carr-Smith, 22 Louie Hennessey, 23 Brendan Owen

Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales, Paul Dix
TMO: Andrew Jackson

Source: @LeicesterTigers 

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