|Leicester: (16) 36|
|Tries: Steward, Wells, Henderson Cons: Ford 3 Pens: Ford 5|
|Bath: (17) 31|
|Tries: Obano, Spencer, Redpath Cons: Priestland 2 Pens: Priestland 4|
Leicester Tigers overturned a 14-point deficit to beat Bath in a thrilling Premiership game at Welford Road.
Bath went 14-0 up after Beno Obano’s fortuitous second-minute try and Ben Spencer’s excellent solo effort.
Three George Ford penalties and Freddie Steward’s try cut the gap to a point at the interval and Tigers went ahead with Harry Wells’ try just after the break.
At 26-26 Cameron Henderson’s try put Tigers ahead and despite Cameron Redpath’s late score they held on.
The win sees Leicester move up from 11th to seventh in the table, while Bath drop to ninth despite getting a losing bonus point.
Bath had not played a league game since 12 December due to Covid-19 postponements, while Leicester had only trained for two days and were without head coach Steve Borthwick after their own Covid-19 issues.
Despite welcoming back England half-back pairing Ben Youngs and Ford, Leicester started poorly as Bath scored a bizarre first try.
It came after Leicester’s Tom Youngs and Jasper Wiese broke from a line-out thinking they had the ball, only to find it had been stolen by Josh McNally who broke and got to within a metre of the tryline before Obano went over.
Tigers’ fortunes took a further turn for the worse soon after as Ford missed a relatively simple penalty and two minutes later Wiese was sin-binned for a high tackle on Anthony Watson.
With a man down, Leicester were punished as Spencer jinked through their defensive line 10 metres inside his own half, chipped the full-back and gathered his own kick despite Nemani Nadolo holding his shirt to go over under the posts.
But two Ford penalties put Leicester back in touch as they grew in confidence, and the England fly-half created the chance that saw Steward go over from close range after Ellis Genge’s bulldozing run set up good field position.
A Rhys Priestland penalty late in the half created a four-point gap but Ford kicked a long-range effort with the final play of the half to ensure a one-point gap at half time.
Straight from the restart, Leicester took the lead as Wells crashed over after a great blindside switch of play from Ben Youngs found Nadolo who released the lock with an offload from the back of his hand.
Three Priestland penalties to one from Ford saw the sides level with 17 minutes to go before Henderson used all of his giant frame to stretch over from close range before Ford’s fifth penalty took the lead to 10 points.
Redpath was forced over from close range after a late Bath surge, but replacement Josh Matavesi missed the conversion and Leicester held on to win the 50th Premiership meeting between the two sides.
Leicester Tigers coach Brett Deacon told BBC Radio Leicester:
“The week’s been compromised, we probably got through 50% of what you would normally do in a week, so we trained for two days.
“The guys know how to play rugby, so it’s a real simple message through the week and it’s just about the emotion on the day and make sure we get the best out of the players emotionally.
“What we’re really proud of as a coaching group is the grit of this team has been shining for a long time, but we haven’t come off the back of the results of that grit and determination.
“Today I thought we definitely had grit, we had the determination to win, but we then went and actually won the game.”
Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper told BBC Radio Bristol:
“We didn’t perform well enough to win, so that’s where the frustration comes from, added to that we showed in the opening quarter of the game that we could do that.
“We were 14-0 up so the boys applied themselves fantastically well, and then from there on we’ve got to ask ourselves some questions.
“Discipline’s part of it, it’s an obvious way to relieve pressure when you’re building pressure on the opposition, giving a penalty away is an obvious way to do that and we did that on too many occasions today. It’s something that we need to work on for sure.”
Leicester: Steward; van Wyk, Taute, Scott, Nadolo; Ford, B Youngs; Genge, T Youngs (capt), Cole, Wells, Green, Martin, Liebenberg, Wiese.
Replacements: Clare, Leatigaga, Heyes, Henderson, Wallace, van Poortvliet, Henry, Murimurivalu.
Bath: Watson; Rokoduguni, Joseph, Redpath, McConnochie; Priestland, Spencer; Obano, Dunn, Stuart, McNally, Ewels (capt, Faletau, Underhill, Mercer.
Replacements: Walker, Schoeman, Judge, Stooke, Bayliss, Reid, Chudley, Matavesi.