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BBC Sport's Nick Mullins
reviews the closely fought match
 real 14k

Leicester Tigers player Tim Stimpson
"Against any competition we can come back"
 real 14k

Tuesday, 26 December, 2000, 18:11 GMT
Callard rants as Bath sink
Leon Lloyd
Lloyd finds his path blocked by Bath's defence
Bath 16-17 Leicester

Bath coach Jon Callard conceded the Zurich Premiership title to Leicester after going down to the narrowest of defeats.

But he also accused referees of allowing themselves to be "intimidated" by the champions elect.

Leicester put on a remarkable second-half performance to shut Bath out of the game after trailing 16-3.


Some people are intimidated and it's one rule for one and another for others
  Jon Callard

A try immediately after the break by Neil Back, a penalty by Tim Stimpson and finally a long range drop goal by fly-half Andy Goode clinched the points.

Callard was impressed with Leicester's fighting spirit but fumed: "The people who are in charge of refs in this country have got to do something.

"Some people are intimidated and it's one rule for one and another for others. Leicester have tremendous belief and wouldn't I give anything for 10% of it now.

"What I'm talking about is having consistency of refereeing from one game to the next. You don't know what you're going to get from one match to another."

For his part, Leicester director of rugby Dean Richards refused to believe the championship was as good as won.

"We came into the Christmas programme with a target of winning all three games.

"We won at Rotherham and to come down on Boxing Day and to win in the manner we did was very pleasing.

Martin Johnson
Johnson celebrates victory
"When Bath had a penalty to win the game with the last kick I thought they probably deserved to.

"At half-time we discussed what had gone wrong and then we came out and played as we should do."

Leicester are steeling themselves to be without skipper Martin Johnson for at least a month when he appears before an RFU disciplinary hearing on Thursday after being cited by Saracens earlier this month.

"Johnno will be missed if he is suspended but we will have to wait and see," said Richards.

"It's vitally important that we win whether we have him or not especially with so many important games coming up, not just in the league but also in the Tetley Bitter Cup and in Europe."

Bath led 16-6 at the interval after looking much the better side and scoring a scintillating try through Iain Balshaw.

But the Tigers capitalised on a series of Bath errors in the opening minute to score a trademark Back try from a line-out.


Johnno will be missed if he is suspended but we will have to wait and see
  Dean Richards

Stimpson could not convert but added his third penalty on 66 minutes to put Leicester within striking range at 16-14.

Bath's defence soaked up some enormous pressure, but Goode let fly with a drop goal from nearly 50 metres to edge his side into the lead for the first time in the game.

Bath dominated the last 10 minutes but failed with a succession of drop goal attempts.

Jon Preston also had a chance to sneak victory in the third minute of injury time but saw his attempt from 45 metres sail wide.

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