Triumphant return for Butch as Bath beat Tigers

Butch James made a triumphant return to the Guinness Premiership after injury on Tuesday, helping Bath to a 26-12 win over Leicester Tigers at The Recreation Ground.

The home side started with purpose and went through numerous phases before scoring their first try after three minutes. Prop Matt Stevens went over the line after some excellent driving work by the forwards, lunging over the line with three tacklers on his back.

James, the Springbok fly half back from three months out with a dislocated shoulder, missed the rather easy conversion and looked a bit out of rhythm early on.

He eventually found his kicking boots though, sending a penalty between the posts with 15 minutes gone in the game, after the Tigers began to show a bit more aggression than they did at the start.

Tigers lost centre Ayoola Erinle on the half hour mark to the sin bin for a professional foul, which gave James another chance to aim for goal. He made no mistake and booted the ball over from the 22.

Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu crossed the line for Bath a few minutes later after some excellent work by the backs in bringing the ball up from the other end of the pitch, but his ostentatious handling of the ball, holding it high above his head in his right hand, saw him drop it as he fell over the line.

Bath did not give up though, and Lee Mears scored his seventh Premiership try after selling a superb little dummy to dive under the posts. James made no mistake with the easy conversion.

Just before the break, Matthew Banahan added another five points by calmly reaching over the maul on the try line to dot the ball down.


James could not add the two points, missing wide to the right from the left touchline.

In the second half, James added another three points in the 45th minute, and Leicester almost got off the mark with a try but the final pass to Tom Varndell went forward.

They finally did cross the line a few minutes later though, when fly-half Ian Humphries ran over without much opposition to dot down in the right hand corner. He did not convert his own try though, missing to the right.

The half was a lot scrappier than the first, with a lot more play amongst the forwards as the rain affected handling and quick passing. Leicester seemed to prefer this style of play and were a lot more attacking.


Added to this, Bath went down to 13 men at one stage after Claasens and Banahan were sent to the sin bin for tackling players without the ball.

The Tigers took advantage of this and scored a try in the 75th minute after some excellent work by Sam Vesty, which lead to Frank Murphy scoring under the posts. Humphreys added the extra two points.

The win saw Bath move into second place on the league table ahead of Harlequins, while Leicester remained in sixth behind Sale Sharks.

Final Score Bath 26 Leicester 12


Pen: Butch James (3)
Try: Matt Stevens, Lee Mears, Matthew Banahan
Conv: Butch James

Try: Ian Humphreys, Frank Murphy
Conv: Ian Humphreys


Bath : Maddock Higgins Crockett Fuimaono-Sapolu Banahan James Claassens Flatman Mears Stevens Borthwick Grewcock Faamatuainu Lipman Browne

Subs: Dixon Bell Short Goodman Baxter Barkley Stephenson

Vesty Varndell Erinle Cornwell Dodge Humphreys Laussucq Ayerza Kayser White Blaze Kay (c) Croft Pienaar Deacon

Subs: Davies Moreno Corry Crane Murphy Mauger Murphy.   

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