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Page last updated at 16:50 GMT, Sunday, 16 May 2010 17:50 UK

Leicester 15-6 Bath

Leicester (6) 15
Pens: Flood 5
Bath (6) 6
Pens: Barkley 2

Toby Flood
England fly-half Flood kicked all of Leicester's points

Toby Flood kicked all his side's points as Leicester set up a Premiership final against Saracens with a hard-fought victory over Bath at Welford Road.

Flood and opposition fly-half Olly Barkley kicked two penalties apiece in an intense opening period.

But the Tigers applied more control after the break and three more penalties from Flood secured the win.

Leicester, who finished top of the table after the regular season, have now reached six finals in a row.

The final is likely to have extra spice because Brendan Venter's Saracens ended Leicester's proud unbeaten home record - one which had stretched back to September 2008 - just last weekend.

Defeat for Bath means they remain without a win at the home of their bitter rivals since November 2003, with their only two defeats in their last 13 Premiership fixtures coming at Welford Road.

Defending champions Leicester, who are bidding for their seventh title in 12 years and ninth in total, made three changes from the side beaten last time out with Flood back at fly-half, along with lock Louis Deacon and number eight Jordan Crane.


Bath, meanwhile, preferred Australian Matt Carraro to England squad member Shontayne Hape at centre.

The game opened at a frantic pace and Bath full-back Nick Abendanon came close to gathering a Butch James chip, before hooker Lee Mears broke through during a promising opening from Steve Meehan's side.

And Barkley rewarded that attacking endeavour by claiming the game's first points with a 12th-minute penalty after the Tigers were penalised for hands in the ruck.

But the centre, who was named in the England squad for next month's tour of Australia and New Zealand on Tuesday, was off-target with a difficult effort from near the left touchline five minutes later.

Bath's growing confidence was exemplified by two strong shoves at consecutive scrums and from one of them giant wing Matt Banahan was hauled down just short of the line by Scott Hamilton after taking a short pass from James.

Barkley added his second penalty at the end of an absorbing opening quarter but Flood got the Tigers on the board with a three-pointer of his own in the 23rd minute.

Leicester turned to their forward power with a series of driving mauls close to the Bath line putting the visitors under intense pressure, but a brave defensive effort, led by lock Stuart Hooper, saw Bath clear their lines.

The hosts pulled level when prop Martin Castrogiovanni won a penalty at a scrum and Flood was successful from around the 40m mark.

Leicester began the second half in purposeful mood with Flood and Anthony Allen kicking them deep into Bath territory.

And they should have taken the lead after a lovely flip pass from Flood put Alesana Tuilagi into space, but the Samoa international failed to find fellow winger Hamilton who was free outside him.

Another powerful Leicester attack saw Mears concede a 55th minute penalty, but Flood was off target from wide on the right.

But the England fly-half took full advantage when Castrogiovanni again proved too much for David Flatman to handle at a scrum, bisecting the uprights from 45m to give Leicester the lead for the first time before adding to his tally again in the 64th minute with his fourth successful penalty.

Further scrum problems followed for the visitors, and Flood again punished them with eight minutes remaining.

Barkley was then off target from a difficult angle with five minutes on the clock as Leicester kept Bath under wraps in the closing minutes.

Leicester head coach Richard Cockerill:

"It was a tight game, Bath are a very good side and have been playing very well. We were a bit jittery after last week (a defeat to Saracens).

"Neither side looked like scoring, it was very attritional and we defended well and by and large we were well disciplined."

Bath coach Steve Meehan:

"We had some opportunities in the first half but we carried the ball into contact when the pass was on.

"In the second half, we found it difficult to get out of our half and get control of the football.

"And when we had it we showed a lack of patience. It's difficult to build pressure like that."

Leicester: G. Murphy, Hamilton, M. Smith, Allen, Tuilagi, Flood, B. Youngs, Ayerza, Chuter, Castrogiovanni, L. Deacon, Parling, Croft, Moody, Crane. Replacements: J. Murphy for Tuilagi (79), Cole for Castrogiovanni (65), Woods for Croft (78), Newby for Moody (65).

Not Used: Duffey, Stankovich, Grindal, Staunton.

Bath: Abendanon, Maddock, Carraro, Barkley, Banahan, James, Claassens, Flatman, Mears, Wilson, Hooper, Grewcock, Beattie, Salvi, Watson. Replacements: Hape for Carraro (68), Barnes for Flatman (73), Dixon for Mears (68), Bell for Wilson (62), Short for Hooper (73).

Not Used: Skirving, Baxter, Davis.

Att: 21,575

Ref: Chris White (RFU).

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see also
Northampton 19-21 Saracens
16 May 10 |  English
Cockerill backing wounded Tigers
14 May 10 |  Leicester
Leicester 23-32 Saracens
08 May 10 |  English
Bath 39-3 Leeds
08 May 10 |  English
Leicester 43-20 Bath
03 Apr 10 |  English
Leicester 24-10 Bath
09 May 09 |  English

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