Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper lauded George Ford’s performance as the Leicester fly-half steered his side to a 36-31 comeback victory at Welford Road with a 21-point haul.

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Ford, the former Bath player, kicked five penalties and converted all three tries scored by Freddie Steward, Harry Wells and Cameron Henderson as the Tigers recovered from a 14-0 deficit inside the opening 15 minutes.

Bath’s tries came from Beno Obano, Ben Spencer and Cameron Redpath, with Rhys Priestland converting two and adding four penalties.

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Hooper admitted his side struggled to cope with the England international, saying: “George kicked very well and we had difficulty in dealing with his spiral bombs. It was evidently a plan from them and it certainly worked.

“We went 14-0 up but we gave away 12 penalties in that first half which gave them the opportunity to get back in the game.

“We lost control of the ball and although it’s a difficult place to come, more was expected from us in terms of a performance.

“They applied pressure on us but we’ve lots of opportunities to put matters rights as we are at the start of a long and unpredictable campaign.”

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Bath skipper Charlie Ewels echoed Hooper’s views, and insisted they cannot use their lack of recent matches due to coronavirus issues as an excuse for the performance.

He said: “It’s very frustrating as you won’t win in the Premiership if you can’t get out of your own half and after we started well, we gave away too many penalties and scoreboard pressure told again us.

“We haven’t played for a couple of weeks due to Covid but we won’t be using that as an excuse as we were still able to train and in this current climate you’ve got to be prepared for anything.

“We said repeatedly on the field to trust our systems but we weren’t getting the right reaction and I have no regrets at the on-field decisions that we made as we always want to play aggressively.”

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Leicester head coach Steve Borthwick was unable to attend the game as he was self-isolating, which resulted in assistants Brett Deacon and Mike Ford taking charge.

Deacon said: “I’m disappointed that we gifted them an early 14 points but our leaders provided great solutions and this backed up by tremendous efforts from the youngsters saw us home.

“We controlled territory and our discipline was the best it’s been this season.”

He added: “Steve was there remotely on Zoom but we are an experienced coaching team and most of the decisions were left to us with Mike (Ford) deciding on the substitutions.

“Freddie (Steward) impressed under the high ball and got us out of our territory efficiently. Up against a British Lion, Anthony Watson, I thought he looked the better player today.”

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