Bath kept themselves firmly in the Gallagher Premiership play-off picture by crushing an inexperienced Leicester side 38-16 at Welford Road. Leicester fielded one of their youngest starting line-ups in Premiership history, with head coach Steve Borthwick handing out three debuts, making 13 changes and resting all his England contingent apart from prop Dan Cole.
And Bath showed no mercy, posting a record league win on Leicester soil at the start of a hectic period when all Premiership clubs will play three games in just over a week.
The visitors scored four first-half tries through front row forwards Will Stuart, Tom Dunn and Lewis Boyce, while wing Ruaridh McConnochie also touched down and fly-half Rhys Priestland kicked three conversions.
The one-way traffic continued in the second period as prop Beno Obano and substitute back Tom de Glanville – son of former England captain Phil de Glanville – added further tries, with scrum-half Ben Spencer kicking one conversion.
All Leicester could manage were two early Johnny McPhillips penalties and consolation tries from replacement hooker Charlie Clare and flanker Luke Wallace as Bath displayed a huge gulf in ability and class.
This fooled them all ??https://t.co/h3Znrz1uWt
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 22, 2020
The victory keeps Bath in fifth place, just one point behind Sale Sharks, but Tigers remain eleventh, having won only four league games all season. Leicester made a strong start and were 6-0 up in as many minutes following two McPhillips penalties after Bath’s transgressions gave him a couple of straightforward shots at goal.
Bath looked lively with ball in hand, particularly debutant centre Cameron Redpath and McConnochie, yet they undid some solid work by continuing to concede penalties. But just as Leicester looked like ending the opening quarter in front, impressive approach work by the Bath forwards ended with Stuart crashing over from close range and Priestland converting for a one-point lead.
Stuart’s score sharpened Bath’s appetite for more of the same and Leicester had no answer when they drove a 25th-minute lineout and Dunn claimed a score that Priestland converted. They were strong warning signs for Tigers’ youthful team, and Bath looked unlikely to relent with their route-one approach, given its early effectiveness.
Try number three soon arrived, although this time it was all about smart handling by the backs and a blistering McConnochie finish that left Leicester defenders floundering. And there was more to come, with Bath securing a bonus point three minutes before the break as another confident attack ended in Boyce completing a trio of front-row touchdowns and Priestland converting for a 20-point advantage.
There was inevitably no reprieve for Leicester after the break as Bath continued to make hay. Obano continued the front row show by touching down in the 49th minute, then centre Josh Matavesi shredded Leicester’s defence with ridiculous ease before sending his fellow replacement de Glanville over.
Clare and Wallace rewarded a solid spell of Leicester pressure by crossing during the closing minutes, yet Bath were already dusting themselves down ahead of a key clash against play-off rivals Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens on Wednesday.
Guessing game… "We want you to be able to identify those traits in us"
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 21, 2020
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