Premiership: Bath 19-34 Leicester Tigers
|Bath: (13) 19|
|Try: Dunn Con: Priestland Pens: Priestland 4|
|Leicester: (10) 34|
|Tries: Thompstone, Kalamafoni 2, Harrison, Veainu Cons: Ford 3 Pen: Ford|
Leicester earned a bonus-point win at Bath to boost their play-off hopes.
Having exchanged three early penalties Leicester looked like they would run away with it as Adam Thompstone went over after Bath were reduced to 13 men.
But despite being short-handed Tom Dunn was forced over for Bath at Twickenham.
Sione Kalamafoni's two unconverted tries, either side of Rhys Priestland's two penalties, saw Leicester in front again before Sam Harrison and Telusa Veainu's late scores sealed it.
The win, front of 60,884 fans at Twickenham, saw Leicester move back into the Premiership top four while Bath's chances of reaching the play-offs now hang by a thread - they are 10 points off fourth place with three games left.
Two Priestland penalties to one from George Ford preceded a period of intense pressure from Leicester as Bath scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i was sin-binned after stopping a Leicester attack on the line illegally.
The Tigers pack then pulverised Bath's front row, with Bath getting a warning before prop Shaun Knight also saw yellow and Thompstone was able to take advantage in the corner after Leicester finally got a scrum away.
But Bath showed great character as they went ahead from Dunn's score before Matt Banahan almost had a second try for the West Country side, only for the late first-half effort to be ruled out after replays showed he failed to ground the ball after a wonderful kick through under pressure by Jonathan Joseph.
Despite some dogged defence Kalamofomi eventually went over twice in 12 minutes, although two Priestland penalties kept Bath within four points after Ford missed both conversions.
And even when Tigers were reduced to 14 men - after Thompstone was penalised for tackling a man in the air - Leicester still went over as Harrison ended a big period of pressure for the bonus point before Veainu's late fifth try.
Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder told BBC Radio 5 Live:
"I felt really proud of the effort - I thought everyone dug in, they gave it everything that they had.
"I thought our defence was outstanding, and just a little penalty here and there can often be the difference.
"You have to give credit to Leicester - I thought they put a lot of pressure on us and they deserved to win those moments."
Leicester head coach Matt O'Connor told BBC Radio Leicester:
"I thought we had a significant advantage with the quality of our bench against theirs, and the investment they made physically and emotionally in the first half was going to tell at some point.
"The guys have worked really hard to address some of the things that were letting us down, we said at the time that we weren't far away and I think the last six weeks have demonstrated that."
On Sione Kalamafoni: "The accuracy and the numbers that he compiles every week are freaky. He's incredibly important for us with the ball, he does a lot of defensive work - he works incredibly hard at set-pieces, a model professional."
Bath: Wilson; Banahan, Joseph, Tapuai, Brew; Priestland, Fotuali'i; Obano, Dunn, Knight, Ewels, Stooke, Garvey, Louw, Faletau.
Replacements: Walker, Noguera, Delmas, Phillips, Ellis, Green, Burns, Vuna.
Leicester Tigers: Veainu; Thompstone, Tait, Toomua, May, George Ford (capt), Harrison; Genge, Polota-Nau, Cole, Fitzgerald, Kitchener, Mapapalangi, Hamilton, Kalamafoni.
Replacements: Tom Youngs, Genge, Mulipola, Wells, Evans, Simmons, Tait, Malouf.