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Page last updated at 18:57 GMT, Saturday, 26 September 2009 19:57 UK

Bath 20-20 Leicester

Bath (14) 20
Try: Banahan Pens: Little 5
Leicester (13) 20
Tries: Davies, Hipkiss Con: Staunton 2 Pen: Staunton 2

Bath captain Michael Classens gets the ball away
There was nothing to choose between Bath and Leicester at the Rec

Leicester and Bath had to settle for a draw as two of English rugby union's heavyweights went toe-to-toe.

Fly-half Nicky Little and his Leicester counterpart Jeremy Staunton exchanged early penalties before Mefin Davies' try put Leicester in the lead.

Matt Banahan's try edged Bath into a 14-13 half-time lead, and the second half was a nervy, attritional affair.

Leicester went ahead after Dan Hipkiss' 75th-minute try but Little's penalty gave Bath a share of the points.

With the Premiership producing a remarkable number of draws already this season, perhaps an equal scoreline was no surprise at the end of a predictably full-blooded affair at the Rec.

Bath will feel they let the match slip from their grasp though, as they enjoyed the best of the possession and territory.

The home team started well and opened the scoring through Little's early penalty, although Staunton swiftly replied for the Tigers.

Two more Little kicks put Bath 9-3 up, but a Carlos Spencer-esque piece of skill from Lewis Moody, passing the ball fully 20 yards through his legs, allowed Davies to finally end Leicester's long wait for a try.


Banahan's brute strength was too much for Leicester's defence as he bulldozed his way over for Bath, edging them into the narrowest of half-time leads.

Another Little penalty gave Bath a four-point cushion as the second half developed into a brutal exchange.

The Fijian fly-half was sin-binned for a late tackle, but Bath's heroic defence looked to have done enough, holding out until his return as Leicester either turned down or missed kicks at goal.

But a nightmare moment from Bath full-back Nick Abendanon, flapping while dealing with a kick into the 22 before being panicked into fly-hacking the ball away wildly, shook Bath's composure.

The introduction of Ben Youngs from the Leicester bench added some much-needed pace, and it was from his break that Hipkiss was able to round the defence and score, putting Leicester 20-17 up.

But with the clock ticking down, Little held his nerve to nail a long-range penalty and ensure the match ended in a draw.

Bath head coach Steve Meehan told BBC Radio Bristol:

"We were better again than last week. Over the course of the first four weeks we've improved each and every week.

"At times we played some great rugby. When we got some territory and hung onto the ball we came up with a good try but we just didn't do often enough.

"I think that if we could finish the first five games with two wins and a draw I think it would be a reasonable return, not an outstanding one."

Leicester head coach Richard Cockerill:

"I was delighted. We scored two tries to one and it was a good game to watch, a good physical encounter.

"We weren't obsessed with kicking the ball into the air all the time.

"A draw was probably a fair result and it showed that we are not as negative as some people like to make out.

"If we keep playing well and trying to play well, we will score tries. We've played three tough away games and got points from all of them."

Bath: Abendanon; Maddock, Banahan, Hape, Cuthbert; Little, Claassens (capt); Barnes, Mears, Bell, Short, Grewcock, Faamatuainu, Salvi, Skirving.
Replacements: Flatman for Barnes (55), Dixon for Mears (67), Jarvis for Bell (67), Hooper for Short (55), Beattie for Faamatuainu (75).
Not Used: Bemand, Davis, Stephenson.

Leicester: Murphy (capt); Hamilton, Allen, Mauger, Murphy; Staunton, Grindal; Ayerza, Davies, White, Blaze, Kay, Newby, Moody, Crane.
Replacements: Smith for G. Murphy (52), Hipkiss for Allen (45), Youngs for Grindal (61), Stankovich for Ayerza (67), Castrogiovanni for White (49), Parling for Kay (61), B. Deacon for Newby (78).
Not Used: Duffy.

Att: 11,700

Ref: Nigel Owens (WRFU).

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see also
Guscott's predictions
26 Sep 09 |  English
Rugby union commentaries
09 Sep 10 |  Rugby Union
Leicester 15-6 Newcastle
19 Sep 09 |  Rugby Union
Sale 12-25 Bath
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