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Puma and Bok lead Leicester Tigers to big win over Bath

By PA
Handre Pollard of Leicester Tigers scores a try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Leicester Tigers and Bath Rugby at Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium on March 04, 2023 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Dave Wainwright for Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Julian Montoya crossed for two tries as in-form Leicester Tigers made it three wins in a row with a 48-27 victory against Bath.

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The Tigers were dominant in the first half and scored tries through Harry Potter, Handre Pollard, Montoya and Hanro Liebenberg.

Bath scored two of their own thanks to Matt Gallagher and Ben Spencer but the Tigers were far too strong and added two more tries in the second half through Montoya and Harry Wells. Seven successful kicks helped Pollard to a personal haul of 21 points, while Josh McNally and Fergus Lee-Warner crossed to earn Bath a bonus point.

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The result lifts the Tigers into the top four, while Bath remain rooted to the bottom of the table.

Bath scored the first points of the game with 10 minutes gone, Gallagher just keeping his feet in touch under pressure in the corner after the ball had been spun through the backs. Spencer could not get the extras though and the score stood at 5-0.

Leicester responded with a solid period of pressure inside the opposing five-metre line and they were eventually rewarded when Pollard’s long pass set up Potter to cross in the right corner. Pollard’s conversion put them 7-5 ahead.

Bath were reduced to 14 men when Tom Dunn was sin-binned and Tigers cashed in, Pollard diving over from close range before converting his own try for a 14-5 lead. It got worse for Bath when McNally was also sent to the bin in the same sequence of play.

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The Tigers quickly got their third try, captain Montoya finishing off a four-on-one advantage on the left wing, Pollard again converting before he and Spencer exchanged penalties to put the score at 24-8.

Spencer gave the visitors a little bit of hope before the break, picking up a loose ball at the back of a ruck before sprinting half the length of the field to score in the corner, but he missed another conversion and the score stayed at 24-13.

Tigers had just enough time to grab their bonus-point try before the break, Liebenberg crashing over from close range before Pollard’s conversion made it 31-13.

Bath started the second half strongly, McNally crossing from close range after a short stint of pressure, with Spencer’s conversion cutting the lead to 31-20.

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But the Tigers put themselves out of sight with 15 minutes left on the clock when captain Montoya scored in the corner after being set up by Mike Brown’s line-breaking run from halfway after taking a high ball. Pollard remained perfect with his final kick of the day to extend the lead to 41-20.

There was still time for Wells to get his name on the scoresheet, walking through untouched after taking an offload from Brown after a stint of back-and-forth kicking. Charlie Atkinson converted.

Lee-Warner responded with Bath’s bonus-point try after barrelling over Potter in the corner to make the final score 48-27 after Spencer added the extras.

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Jon 3 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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