Bath miss chance to start 2024 top of Premiership table after loss at Leicester
Bath missed the opportunity to begin 2024 at the top of the Premiership table as they crashed to a convincing 35-22 defeat to Leicester before a sold-out Mattioli Woods Welford Road with an attendance of nearly 26,000.
The defeat was not unexpected as Bath took the surprise decision to rest many of their leading lights, with Finn Russell, Ollie Lawrence, Beno Obano and regular skipper Ben Spencer among those absent from their line-up.
With nothing gained from the match, Bath finished the year in fourth position, two points behind leaders Northampton.
Leicester took full advantage to score five tries. These came from Matt Rogerson, Mike Brown, George Martin and James Cronin with Handre Pollard adding four conversions. There was also a penalty try award.
It took Bath less than four minutes to take the lead. On halfway, Pollard’s telegraphed inside pass to Freddie Steward was intercepted by Schreuder, who had the pace to hold off the cover on a 50-metre run to the line.
Tigers drew level when they turned down a kick at goal in favour of an attacking line-out and it paid dividends when Rogerson forced his way over.
A burst from Bath wing Tom de Glanville saw him threaten the try-line but it was the hosts who scored next when a well-judged pass from Tom Whiteley gave Brown the chance to outflank the defence and score.
On the half-hour Bath captain GJ van Velze was sin-binned with the home side capitalising immediately when Cronin powered over from short range.
Three minutes later, Leicester scored their bonus-point try when Martin finished off a succession of forward drives. Pollard added his fourth conversion before Bailey responded with a penalty to leave his side trailing 28-10 at the interval.
A minute after the restart, Van Velze returned but it made no difference as three minutes later his side conceded a penalty try after collapsing Tigers’ line-out drive with the culprit Jaco Coetzee sent to the sin-bin.
Leicester did not take advantage of Coetzee’s absence, with no addition to the scoreboard, and they relaxed further when international forwards Martin, Tommy Reffell, Jasper Wiese and Julian Montoya were all replaced in quick succession.
The game fizzled out as a spectacle but spirited Bath earned some reward when a break from Max Ojomoh set up a try for Hennessey.
Richards soon added another but Leicester went into the new year happy after recording a double over their opponents, having triumphed earlier in the season at the Rec by a single point.
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