Leicester edge out Bath
October 4, 2008
Derick Hougaard impressed for the Tigers at The Rec
© Getty Images
Leicester notched a 19-15 victory over Bath at The Rec in their opening Anglo-Welsh Cup clash.
Fly-half Derick Hougaard kicked 14 points on his debut to get the Tigers off to a winning start in their Pool 2 campaign.
Reunited with his former Blue Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer - but absent for the first portion of the season because of a shoulder injury - Hougaard was a calming influence when Bath threatened to overrun the visitors. The 25-year-old also kicked three penalties and a drop goal in addition to a conversion of Ben Youngs' try.
Both sides made wholesale changes after midweek victories in the Guinness Premiership, which confirmed them as the top two in the league. Bath included scrum-half Scott Bemand, who was making his first full outing since signing from the Tigers, while there were also debuts for former Northampton player Robbie Kydd and Shontayne Hape - the club's latest recruit from rugby league.
The hosts showed their attacking intent from the second minute when Kydd led a counter up the left wing and just three minutes later they opened the scoring through right-wing Andrew Higgins after Michael Stephenson came across from the left to open up the Tigers defence. Kydd was wide with the conversion. Hougaard kicked his first points in English rugby almost immediately as Bath were penalised at the breakdown and he added a second penalty on 15 minutes from longer range.
Before the hosts had time to regroup scrum-half Youngs scooted through a spread-eagled defence after Ben Hemingway had stolen a line-out. Bath continued to move the ball wide at every opportunity and Ayoola Erinle performed heroics to prevent Higgins scoring again, turning over possession into the bargain.
Hougaard was off-target with another long-range penalty and then a last-ditch tackle by Kydd halted a storming run by lock Sam Raven. Although Bath lost second row Justin Harrison to a shoulder injury on 27 minutes then continued to attack from all parts of the field, Hape impressing with some subtle touches.
The Kiwi was twice involved in a thrust from deep but the try, when it came, had a touch of farce as Sam Vesty scuffed his clearance kick to Higgins, who touched down in the corner. However, Kydd could not convert and Leicester held a 13-12 lead at the break.
As the predicted rain rolled in from the west, scoring opportunities were severely restricted in the second half. The one-point margin was maintained as Kydd and Hougaard exchanged penalties and the closest Leicester came to a try was when Alesana Tuilagi bulldozed his way just short of the line, only to be penalised for holding on.
Hougaard stretched the lead to four points with a drop goal in the 70th minute and Bath were unable to make any impression.
Bath: Kydd, Stephenson, Hape, Cheeseman, Higgins, Fuimaono-Sapolu, Bemand, Flatman, Hawkins, Ion, Harrison, Hobson, J. Ovens, Scaysbrook, James.
Replacements: Crane for Cheeseman (73), Baxter for Bemand (71), Catt for Flatman (67), Dixon for Hawkins (67), Jarvis for Ion (40), Hooper for Harrison (27), Griffith for Hobson (71).
Leicester: Vesty, Varndell, Erinle, T. Youngs, Tuilagi, Hougaard, B. Youngs, Stankovich, Davies, Cole, Raven, Kay, Hemingway, Pearson, B. Deacon.
Replacements: Smith for Tuilagi (64), Bonorino for Stankovich (61), Chuter for Davies (55), Goldspink for Raven (71), Wentzel for Pearson (47).
Not Used: Harrison, Hurrell.
Ref: Dean Richards (RFU).