Table-dominating Leicester Tigers fought back against a brave Bath side, winning 24-20, to claim their first Rec victory in 11 years.
Steve Borthwick’s men ended their nine-game league losing streak at Bath, making it their 14th win of the season after a difficult game against the bottom-placed side.
The Tigers were down six points at halftime due to tries from winger Will Muir, center Max Ojomoh and lineback Josh Bayliss, who unleashed inside Cheslin Kolbe to point the ball into the corner after a peg step.
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Fly-half Orlando Bailey added a penalty and a conversion, but Leicester weren’t to be denied as number eight Jasper Wiese, scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth and fly-half Freddie Burns claimed touchdowns.
Burns also kicked three conversions, while full-back Bryce Hegarty kicked in a second-half penalty, with Leicester heading into the final quarter to deny Bath.
There was good news for Wales head coach Wayne Pivac, meanwhile, with Bath striker Taulupe Faletau playing the whole game in just his second appearance since sustaining the injury. ankle seven months ago, and a Six Nations squad call-up looks likely. of next Saturday’s clash against England.
Danny Cipriani took part in Matchday 23 at Bath for the first time since early December after completing return-to-play protocols after a concussion, while full-back Tom De Glanville also returned and winger Will Butt only made a second Premiership start.
Leicester had five England players absent due to Six Nations duty – Freddie Steward, George Ford, Ben Youngs, Ellis Genge and Ollie Chessum – with Wigglesworth captaining the side.
The Tigers displayed all the confidence of a side at the top of the Premiership and took the lead after just six minutes.
Juggernaut winger Nemani Nadolo fired a trademark flurry that scattered Bath defenders and Wiese applied a close-range finish before Burns’ conversion made it 7-0.
It was an immediate setback for Bath, who were 47 points behind Leicester before kick-off, but they responded in impressive fashion when scrum-half Ben Spencer’s precisely placed spot-kick sent Muir through widely.
Leicester, however, were in a ruthless mood and center Dan Kelly opened up Bath’s defense on their next attack, allowing Wigglesworth to mark his 311th Premiership appearance by landing between the posts, and Burns converted.
Muir did not help Bath’s cause when he was shown a yellow card by referee Karl Dickson for a dangerous aerial challenge against Tigers full-back Hegarty, although Bailey then reduced the backlog to six points thanks to a penalty of 30 meters.
Bath now had the bit between their teeth and they warded off a second try 11 minutes before half-time when center Jonathan Joseph kicked into space before his midfield partner Ojomoh finished.
It was a perfect way for Ojomoh to celebrate signing a two-year contract extension earlier this week, but Bath weren’t done and De Glanville’s impressive work, combined with Bayliss’ aforementioned superb finish, put the home side ahead 20-14.
Bayliss had only been on the pitch for a few minutes, replacing number eight Nathan Hughes, who left for a head injury assessment, but Bath had turned the game around.
Leicester looked shocked by their hosts’ flurry of goals and Bath maintained a deserved advantage in the interval.
The Tigers besieged Bath’s 22 after the break and they claimed a third down after relentless scrum pressure as space opened up, allowing Burns a simple run-in, before he added the conversion.
Hegarty then kicked in a close-range penalty and it looked like Leicester’s header had weathered the storm.
Bath resumed play in the Tigers’ half, but Leicester had the advantage in attack and Cipriani was able to make little impact after coming on as a 65th-minute substitute.
Defending champions Harlequins end Wasps’ four-game winning streak
Elsewhere, Premiership champions Harlequins returned to form in style as they beat Wasps 29-24 at Twickenham Stoop.
Quins ran in five tries in total as they snapped a three-game losing streak to move up to third in the standings while opening a five-point gap between them and their visitors.
Tries from Oscar Beard and Huw Jones opened a 12-3 half-time lead for Harlequins, with Wasps’ only points coming from a Jacob Umaga penalty.
The Quins gave themselves a winning lead with scores from Cadan Murley, Andre Esterhuizen and Louis Lynagh before the Wasps finally fought back through Tom Willis, Sam Spink and Jeff Toomaga-Allen.
Although the result may have been a disappointment for Wasps, there was the welcome sight of Jack Willis making his first appearance in a year, as a substitute, after recovering from a serious knee injury.
Paddy Jackson kick seals London Irish victory over Saracens on the fence
A last-minute penalty from Paddy Jackson was enough for the London Irish to secure a late win in a thrilling Premiership encounter as they toppled second-placed Saracens 32-30 in the capital.
Benhard Janse van Rensburg crossed for two tries to seemingly put the hosts on the path to victory, but Adam Coleman was sent off in the second half to set up a thrilling final.
Saracens fly-half Alex Lozowski then converted Nick Tompkins’ try to put the visitors ahead for the first time late on, but the Irish forced a penalty and Jackson kept his composure to score the winners.
George Furbank misses final nail in Saints’ coffin against Sale
George Furbank missed a penalty with the game’s final kick as Sale secured a crucial 22-21 win over Premiership play-off rivals Northampton.
Furbank opted to take a shot on goal as the clock had reached 80, but his tricky attempt from near the right touchline drifted just wide of the right post.
Northampton could have gone for the corner in a bid to earn a bonus point, but Furbank took the kick and he couldn’t, sparking celebrations of the sale.
Rohan Janse van Rensburg eventually provided the telling contribution for the Sharks by recovering a stray ball and charging for what proved to be a vital try with 20 minutes to go.
AJ MacGinty added the conversion to give Sale a point and then they set up the barricades under great pressure late to secure the win.
It was Sale’s fourth successive Premiership success and they are now inside the bottom four.