Premiership: Leicester Tigers 17-8 Bath
|Leicester (11) 17|
|Tries: T. Youngs Pens: Williams 4|
|Bath (3) 8|
|Tries: Batty Pens: Ford|
Leicester Tigers avenged September's record 45-0 Premiership hammering by outmuscling Bath in an intense 17-8 victory at Welford Road.
Roared on by a noisy 24,000 crowd, Tigers dominated the set-piece and Tom Youngs' try from a catch-and-drive was ample reward for their ferocity.
Owen Williams' kicking kept the visitors at bay, with four penalties.
Ross Batty's try and George Ford's penalty gave Bath bonus-point hope, but Ford missed the required conversion.
England centre Kyle Eastmond limped off early on in the match, replaced by Ollie Devoto, and Bath missed his creativity and dynamic running at 12 throughout.
Sam Burgess made his first Premiership start and crashed over the line but was denied a first senior try in rugby union by a forward pass in the build-up.
Mike Ford's side found the Tigers' defence in relentless mood, while there was a spiteful tinge at times to a contest that bore little resemblance to the one-sided thrashing at the Rec, as Leicester blitzed their opponents with a brutal first-half display.
Bath, who had taken an early lead through Ford's penalty, were denied their usual fluid style by their opponents' industry and the soggy conditions.
The opening try was a team effort; Tigers rumbling over a maul that presented a try for hooker Tom Youngs, while the visitors' indiscipline gave fly-half Williams the chance to clip over a brace of three-pointers.
Referee Matthew Carley was kept busy, denying Burgess his first Premiership try, while captains Ben Youngs and Stuart Hooper were brought together in a bid to restore order.
Only dogged defence prevented a further Leicester score after a grinding 20 phases, while Ford missed from the tee as Bath failed to take the chance to narrow the half-time deficit.
Williams' boot continued to turn the scoreboard in Tigers' favour during the second period, and a rapidly clotting surface brought further footwork problems.
Having struggled to compete for much of the game at the set-piece, Bath finally found some headway with a string of line-outs, but Semesa Rokoduguni was bundled into touch after a driving maul gave Bath field position.
Batty's score gave hopes of picking up a consolation losing bonus point in the final minute, but the kick was pulled wide on a rare off-day for England playmaker Ford.
Leicester Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill said:
"It was a big game for us, and I thought we played very well against a good side. In isolation, it's a massive win for us - a great building block.
"We didn't talk about it (45-0 defeat). I didn't really want to revisit it too much because every time you watched it they looked so good. We focused on ourselves and what we can do well.
"Across the board, I think we wanted it more than they did. We defended exceptionally well and we didn't give their back-line the opportunity to create the opportunities that maybe they normally get.
"It proves we can beat the sides that have been on really good form. It puts us right back in the mix."
Bath head coach Mike Ford said:
"We were on the wrong side of the referee. We couldn't adapt. We are the best-disciplined team in the competition by a country mile, but today we conceded nine or 10 penalties in the first 25 minutes, so we will have to look at that.
"Is it because we've come to Leicester and the crowd are baying for our blood? I am not too sure. We have got to adapt better.
"At 17-3 behind in those conditions, the game got away from us a little bit. They had some good tactics. They executed really well. They were very hungry, and if you lose the ruck (area) in those conditions it's really tough.
"Can we get better? Of course we can. We played the better football, but that doesn't mean you win games. There are loads of different ways to win a game. "We are in a good place, and we will lick our wounds and learn from today."
Leicester Tigers: Tait; Thompstone, Goneva, Allen, Benjamin; Williams, B. Youngs (capt); Ayerza, T Youngs, Balmain; Kitchener, Parling; Gibson, Salvi, Crane.
Replacements: Ghiraldini, Rizzo, Pasquali, De Chaves, Barbieri, Harrison, Burns, Bai.
Bath: Watson; Agulla, Burgess, Eastmond, Banahan; Ford, Cook; James, Webber, Wilson; Hooper (capt), Attwood; Garvey, Louw, Fearns.
Replacements: Batty, Auterac, Thomas, Day, Houston, Young, Devoto, Joseph.
Referee: Matthew Carley