By Nicola Curtis
March 9 2012
Bath put on a spirited display against Leicester under lights in the semi- final of the LV cup, but the boot of Tom Heathcote was bettered by that of George Ford.
It was a somewhat rejuvenated Bath team who ran out onto the pitch on The Rec on Friday night for the first game under lights in a long while; the win against Worcester would have no doubt have lifted spirits all around the club during the week.
But taking on a Leicester Tigers team for a spot in a final was a different prospect altogether, and looking at the team, it seemed as if Bath knew the size of the task, as the team was as strong as it could have been.
Bath’s start was weak by any standard; Leicester managed to pin Bath back by impressive kicking and a strong attack. The Tigers nearly put the first points on the board through an interception, but referee Dave Pearson judged this as a knock on. Bath managed to hold Leicester back for long enough to mount an attack of their own, the first being a nice chip through from Olly Barkley for Tom Biggs to chase, but the ball went too far for both Biggs and the Leicester attack. Another kick saw a lovely run from that renowned winger, Duncan Bell, but none of these rejuvenated Bath attacks saw any points on the board.
The first points came from the boot of the impressive Leicester youngster George Ford after Sam Vesty was penalised for hanging on after taking a high ball. Leicester’s momentum carried on after they caught a lineout 5m from the try line, and after the ball bobbled out on to the floor, Graham Kitchener pounced on the ball and scored a try. The conversion was missed.
Bath soon managed to score some points after Leicester were penalised; Tom Heathcote continued to impress all around him as he slotted the ball through the posts. A lovely attack from the youngster saw the ball go to Tom Biggs, then spin across the pitch to a mass of forwards; Lee Mears saw a gap and went over for a try. Heathcote hit the bar with the conversion, but the ball rebounded and went through and the score went to 10-8. Bath ended the first half strongly, with some good attacks from the forwards; Attwood in particular.
If Bath started the first half weakly, they came out fighting at the start of the second. They attacked theLeicester line relentlessly, with Tom Biggs (as ever!) deserving a mention. But with no points appearing on the board, they attack came to nothing. Leicester soon found themselves in the Bath 22, and after the home side were penalised, Ford kicked another three points.
Bath soon had a chance to get three points back, when Heathcote kicked three, but Leicester immediately struck back, after sub Perinese was penalised. The second half was something of an exchange of penalties; Tom Heathcote got another not long after to take the score to 16-14.Bath did their best to add some points that did not come from the boot of Heathcote, but their attacks, such as a nice chip through from Banahan, didn’t yield any.
When Leicester were penalised for wheeling the scrum, Heathcote had a chance to take his side away from Leicester, but seemed to have lost his way, and he put the kick wide. Leicester had a few more attacks, and Bath do deserve some credit from preventing them from crossing the line. But their scrum was not good enough, and the final Leicester penalty was given after David Flatman was penalised. The score finished at 16-17 after Tom Heathcote missed a penalty chance to take Bath into the lead. The last few minutes were entirely predictable, with Leicester re-setting the scrum multiple times; “stick-it-up-yer-jumper” rugby if I have ever seen it!
In conclusion, it can’t be denied that it was a great game, just a very frustrating one. Biggs as ever was wonderful, Heathcote impressed greatly, Banahan was exasperating. We saw some interesting tactics from Leicester; one Tom Heathcote penalty was delayed when a Leicesterplayer conveniently got cramp on the exact spot the number 10 was to take his kick from. In any case, the match was a good one, and really could have gone either way. I felt that it was ultimately George Ford’s excellent kicking that gave Leicester the edge. Deeply disappointing and such a shame on a beautiful night.