Bath swamped by Flood
Toby Flood enjoyed a flawless day with the boot as champions Leicester beat old rivals Bath 21-15 at Welford Road.
Last Updated: 23/10/10 5:07pm
England fly-half Toby Flood enjoyed a flawless day with the boot as champions Leicester beat old rivals Bath 21-15 at Welford Road.
A typically abrasive performance from the Tigers' pack helped set up Flood for six penalties and a drop-goal just six days after his return from a knee injury.
Bath came back strongly after a poor opening 20 minutes but five penalties from centre Olly Barkley were not enough to give them a first win at Welford Road since November 2003.
Bath were competitive and claimed a deserved bonus point, but after four defeats in their last six games, their season is on the slide already.
Leicester handed starts to props Boris Stankovich and Dan Cole in the only two changes from the side that thrashed Scarlets last weekend.
Bath were without England captain Lewis Moody, who had not recovered from an eye injury in time to face the club where he spent 14 years, but fly-half Sam Vesty got the chance to lock horns with his former team-mates while prop Duncan Bell was a late replacement for David Wilson at tighthead.
Vesty blotted his copybook by kicking the ball dead from just outside his 22 after just 32 seconds, and the visitors were punished from the resulting scrum as Flood picked a low Ben Youngs pass off his toes to drop a goal for an early 3-0 lead.
Bath were struggling to get out of their own half and a sixth-minute Flood penalty doubled the Tigers' lead.
Barkley finally got Bath on the board with an 11th minute penalty but they infringed again after Anthony Allen had gathered the restart, Flood duly re-established the home side's six-point lead and added his third penalty at the end of a one-sided first quarter with Bath's ill-discipline costing them dear.
Barkley responded with a brilliant penalty from the halfway line with conditions deteriorating at a rapid rate.
As the rain descended, the game turned into a bout of aerial ping-pong, making for an error-strewn spectacle as both sides struggled with the sodden surface and ball.
Barkley had a chance to trim Bath's arrears to three points just before the break, but his penalty fell short.
Full-back Nick Abendanon then launched a thrilling counter down the left flank as Steve Meehan's men kept the pressure on to set up another penalty opportunity right on half-time, but Barkley was again off target.
The rain relented for the start of the second half but Vesty's tough return to his former home continued as he failed to role away at a ruck and Flood stepped up to kick his fourth penalty, with another following in the 49th minute as Leicester looked to take control.
But Bath continued to battle and two Barkley penalties in quick succession ensured the Tigers could not quite shake them off as the match entered its final quarter.
The visitors' fightback gathered momentum as Leicester captain Geordan Murphy illegally sealed off the ball in a ruck to hand Barkley a three-pointer and set up a tense finale.
But a powerful Tom Croft surge gave Leicester field position and Flood effectively sealed the win with his sixth penalty eight minutes from time.