May 6 2012
In the warm up before the match in a drizzling rain at Welford Road, Olly was seen giving a motivational talk to the backs whilst Mears focussed his vocal cords on getting the forwards up for a massive challenge against a strong Tigers pack. With Brad, putting the team through their final warm up moves, there appeared to be a steely determination in the eyes of the players...
From the kick off the boys were under pressure. After just 45 seconds, we gave away a dubious penalty, which was well within the range of Toby Flood and only slightly to the right of the posts...but TF sliced the kick and we were still level. However just five minutes later from a similar angle but much nearer to the upright Flood stroke his kicked through the posts and after six minutes the boys were down 3-0...was this to be the beginning of the start of our traditional first half blues?...er no actually.
Our front five started to square up to Tigers, put pressure on their front row and we forced their scrum into conceding penalties and making mistakes as the ball came out at the base. Yes we were not as good or as strong as them but the effort of the pack was giving confidence to the rest of the team. In a 10 minute spell midway through the first half, the boys in black blue and white were at times camped in the Tigers 22. Carl Fearns was the catalyst and inspiration as he carried the ball into contact, crossing the gain line and making space through the centre of the Tigers defence. Simon Taylor, Josh and Catty were all involved in pick and moves, as we edged closer and closer to the try line. However The Tigers have now won 12 on the spin and they showed why as their defence held firm, time after time. But the boys were knocking on the door, we just could not get over the line.
After this dominant mini Bath period, normal service was resumed, as Leicester started to take control of possession and with ball in hand were driving to the bath line. Bath responded with gaining good turn over ball, kicking it away only for wave after wave of Tiger attacks bearing down on our defence. The tackle count was climbing as every Bath player was involved in doing whatever it took to make the tackle, make the blocks and put themselves on the line ...just to stop the Tigers. Leicester refused the opportunity for easy three point penalties on two occasions as they went for the exposed Bath jugular. However, the excellently coached Bath defence did Brad Davis proud as they astounded and frustrated Leicester by just making tackle after tackle and refusing to give in...which they didn’t. 15 Bath heroes got to half time without conceding a try but the cost of that first half effort along with immense pride was etched on their faces. Could they recuperate in the 10 minute break.
The second half was almost a one way procession to the Bath line. Of course there were moments when Biggsy was actually given possession of the ball both in the centre and out wide. Olly looked sharp on his return to the team and had a run chase with Alesana Tuilagi but was just beaten to the ball five metres short of the Tigers line. Stevo passed the ball through the backs far more than kicking and looked to bring in to play a number of guys to run onto the ball taking good angles. Carl Fearns continued to be the lead line breaker and go to man but the disappointment was that we were slow to the breakdown too often and Leicester had rich pickings all afternoon. Our next coach will need to focus not just on our scrummaging but all aspects of forward play.
Soon after the restart Olly pulled Bath within three points....but that was to be the highlight of the half. After another Tigers onslaught, Twelvetrees released Allen, who scored despite the presence and efforts of the Bath defence. With the conversion...Tigers started to pull away at 13-3....and worse was to come.
After a brief period in which this time Bath turned down kickable penalties and decided to "have a go with guts" Leicester piled on the pressure and during one continuous period of play resulting in a scrum deep in the Bath 22, we suffered being penalised by Referee Richards on three consecutive scrums with new entrants Beech and Bell (making an emotional farewell appearance) on for Wilson and Catt, singled out as the culprits. Soon after the Ref had no alternative but to award a penalty try.
A host of changes had taken place in the last 12 minutes....but why wait until the 67th minute to bring on Kyle? hmm
With the boys now as they say in boxing terms out on their feet, Tom Youngs had a cracking run through the centre of the park and was only just brought down short of the try line by a last ditch effort by the impressive Bendy. However the Tigers cycled quick ball and it left Horacio Aguller the easy task of crossing the line for the last try of the match. Final score 28-3.
As the boys in the famous blue black and white shirt acknowledged the away support, we must acknowledge that no team can withstand the onslaught of wave after wave attacks and heroic defending and expect to last 80 minutes.
So what will be remembered is the first half heroics, in which every player played with pride and also the nightmare of the second half when we were found out to be the mediocre team that we are as is evident by Bath's finishing position in The Aviva Premiership, whilst The Tigers look forward to buying their tickets tomorrow for a home semi-final in the play offs.
Have a good summer break.