Leicester book LV Cup final spot by beating Bath

Leicester Tigers held on to win their Anglo Welsh LV Cup Semi-final clash by beating Bath 16-17 at The Recreation Ground in Bath on Friday.


The result means that Leicester Tigers will meet the winner of Sunday’s other Semi-final between Northampton Saints and the Scarlets in the Anglo Welsh LV Cup final.


Leicester Tigers took the bold move of naming a young second string team for this match but the decision paid off.


The opening points of a breathless first quarter came on 18 minutes when another kick-chase led to a penalty and Ford made no mistake with the kick from 30 metres out.


Ford then produced a superb kick to pin back Bath and the hosts made a mistake at the line-out near their own line. When prop Charlie Beech lost possession under pressure from Julian White, Tigers lock Graham Kitchener dropped on the loose ball to score. Ford missed the conversion as Leicester led 8-0.


Fly-half Tom Heathcote got Bath off the mark with a 35-metre penalty after 24 minutes as the game continued to swing in the favour of one side and then the other.


Then Bath claimed the lead for the first time just after the half-hour with a converted try. A line-out on the left provided the platform and a sweeping attack, led by a 40-metre charge from Matt Carraro, took them within range of the tryline, the ball eventually coming to the right for hooker Lee Mears to dart between two defenders to score. Heathcote added a testing kick from out wide to give the hosts a 10-8 advantage.


The home crowd almost had more cause for celebration moments later as a sharp attack on halfway set Matt Banahan into space but, when he kicked ahead, Ford read the bounce of the ball and kept his cool to clear.


Bath enjoyed their best spell in the closing 10 minutes of the half, using Carraro and Banahan to crash the ball up in midfield, and the offloading game among the forwards to keep Tigers on the back foot.


They created two more chances on the right before the half closed with Tigers scrum-half James Grindal winning turnover ball at a close-range scrum and the visitors protecting possession as the clock kicked down to the break.


The home side almost had a dream start to the second half when Scott Hamilton’s miscued kick gave away possession on halfway and Bath’s Biggs got his side in dangerous territory. The ball was flun to the right butm, with men over, it drifted into touch.


The pressure was unrelenting though as Mears and Banahan got within reach of the tryline, but spirited defence kept Tigers in the game, eventually winning turnover ball near the 22.


Tigers won a penalty at the scrum and, after Ford had taken play up to halfway, international props Logoviii Mulipola and Marcos Ayerza replaced Boris Stankovich and White.


They were rewarded with a penalty at their opening scrum, giving Ford an opportunity to regain the lead with a kick from 35 metres. A big cheer from the travelling support signaled its success as Tigers regained the lead at 11-10.


But it was shortlived, though, when Biggs capitalised on a loose pass from Newby and, when Bath were awarded a penalty on the left, Heathcote struck it well to make it 13-11 to the home side.


The see-saw fortunes continued as Tigers were awarded a penalty from the restart after obstruction in the Bath forwards and Ford struck the kick to make it 14-13.


Back Bath game yet again, with Heathcote nailing a penalty in front of the posts after Kitchener had been penalised at a ruck. And they almost added to it with replacement Jack Cuthbert powering his way up to the 22 and kicking in behind, only for Twelvetrees to rescue Tigers with a race to the ball and then the composure to set up a clearing kick.


Thomas Waldrom and Julian Salvi entered the fray, replacing Ben Pienaar and Newby in the Tigers pack, but Bath had the next opportunity, gaining a penalty at a scrum close t

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