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Leicester 24-10 Bath

Leicester (14) 24
Tries: Hipkiss, Vesty, Moody Cons: Dupuy 3 Pens: Dupuy
Bath (0) 10
Tries: Claassens, Hooper

By James Standley

Sam Vesty celebrates his try
Vesty has been at the heart of Leicester's fine recent form

Leicester muscled their way into the Guinness Premiership final for the fifth year in a row as they out-gunned Bath at the Walkers Stadium.

Tries from Dan Hipkiss and Sam Vesty, both converted by Julien Dupuy, gave them a 14-0 lead at the break.

Bath tried to run the Tigers off their feet and hit back with tries from Michael Claassens and Stuart Hooper, either side of a Dupuy penalty.

But Lewis Moody wrapped things up with a converted try late on for Leicester.

Their previous match had seen them reach the Heineken Cup final at the expense of Cardiff Blues courtesy of a shoot-out, after extra time had been unable to separate the two sides at the Millennium Stadium.

The Tigers, who will face London Irish in the final at Twickenham on 16 May, set out determined to finish this one inside regulation time and they dominated from the opening whistle.

Geordan Murphy's scoring pass to Marcos Ayerza was correctly ruled to be forward as the Tigers went in search of the opening try but the hosts, who had moved the game down the road from Welford Road because of redevelopment work, did not have long to wait for their opening score.

606: DEBATE
Dr Webb

A multi-phase attack finally bludgeoned Bath into submission when the low-slung, stocky Hipkiss powered through an attempted tackle from Nick Abendanon and ran round under the posts.

Dupuy, who had been the match-winner the last time the two sides met when his last-gasp try set up a Tigers victory in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals, converted to give the hosts a 7-0 lead after 16 minutes.

And they nearly extended their advantage two minutes later when Johne Murphy raced after Vesty's grubber kick.

The Irishman looked the favourite to win the race to touch down but some vicious offspin at the last moment enabled Shontayne Hape to get back and just beat the Tigers winger to the ball.

A poor pass from Biarritz-bound Ayoola Erinle, a late call-up for the injured Aaron Mauger, then let Bath off the hook once more, before Craig Newby just failed to take Vesty's pass a yard from the line after Geordan Murphy and Erinle had sparked a fine counter attack.

The scoreboard did not reflect Leicester's dominance but two minutes before the break Vesty sliced over from a five metre scrum to ensure the Tigers turned their possession into points.

Dupuy's conversion made it 14-0 and left Bath staring at an ignominious defeat, but coach Steve Meehan must have found some inspirational words at half-time because his side was transformed after the break.

Leicester centre Dan Hipkiss (left) is tackled by Bath's Michael Claassens
Hipkiss (left) and Claassens (right) both scored tries on Saturday

They began to play with much more fizz and although Ryan Davis missed a long-range penalty, they got on the scoreboard five minutes after the restart when ex-Springbok scrum-half Claassens sniped over down the blind-side of a ruck.

Leicester scrum-half Dupuy slotted a penalty to edge the Tigers back into a 12-point lead but Bath had taken the upper hand and scored their second try when Hooper rode Tom Croft's tackle to score out wide.

As with Claassen's score, Davis could not convert, but with only a converted try in it Bath were right back in contention with a quarter of the game still to play.

After their exertions against the Blues a week before it seemed as though it would be Leicester who would be the more likely to run out of gas.

But this Tigers side showed it has the guts and drive long associated with the East Midlands giants by once again upping their game.

The coltish Croft had the ball knocked from his grasp as he tried to dive over in the corner but the Tigers had scented Twickenham and they booked their passage to London with a third try.

Abendanon cynically tripped Johne Murphy as he chipped ahead but the fit-again Moody marked his appearance from the bench by winning the race to touch down for a rapturously-received score.


Leicester boss Richard Cockerill:
"We've got a side full of guys playing really well. I was a bit nervous at 17-10, but we made them tackle and scrum hard.

"We were not lucky, we played better than them. No one could say we didn't deserve to win.

"We were a bit impatient sometimes and I knew they would come back at us. We were a bit sloppy after half-time and at 17-10 I was hoping we wouldn't go to extra-time again."

Bath boss Steve Meehan:
"We have done well in Europe and the Premiership this season but we need to kick on again and freshen up mentally.

"We were just were not on our game in the first half and I don't really know why."


Leicester: G Murphy; Hamilton, Erinle, Hipkiss, J Murphy; Vesty, Dupuy; Ayerza, Chuter, Castrogiovanni, Croft, Kay, Newby, Woods, Crane.

Replacements: Kayser for Chuter (59), White for Castrogiovanni (62), Moody for Woods (66)m, Ellis for Dupuy (73), Varndell for G Murphy (77), Smith for Erinle (77), Wentzel for Newby (77)

Bath: Abendanon; Maddock, Crockett, Hape, Banahan; Davis, Claassens; Flatman, Mears, Bell, Harrison, Short, Beattie, Scaysbrook, Hooper.

Replacements: Dixon for Mears (65), Barnes for Flatman (65), Ion for Bell (71), Faamatuainu for Beattie (71), Bemand for Claassens (73), Higgins for Abendanon (76), Berne for Crockett (76)

Att: 18,850

Ref: Dave Pearson (Newcastle).



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see also
Harlequins 0-17 London Irish
09 May 09 |  English
Veteran Corry retires from rugby
09 May 09 |  Leicester
Cardiff 26-26 Leicester (aet)
03 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Leicester 20-15 Bath
11 Apr 09 |  Rugby Union
Leicester 73-3 Bristol
25 Apr 09 |  English
Bath 33-18 Saracens
25 Apr 09 |  English


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