England centre Tuilagi scored his first Premiership try since the opening day of last season in Leicester’s defeat to Bath.
Bath stole Manu Tuilagi’s thunder as they claimed a first Aviva Premiership victory at Welford Road for 14 years.
England centre Tuilagi scored his first Premiership try since the opening day of last season as he started a first competitive Leicester game for eight months, but Bath were not to be denied as they thwarted a late Leicester fightback and claimed a 27-23 win.
Bath’s Wales-born centre Max Clark touched down twice in the first half, while wing Semesa Rokoduguni posted an 80-metre interception score and fly-half Rhys Priestland added all three conversions, plus two penalties.
What they said
Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder: “I am just so pleased we hung on by our fingernails, basically. Probably the question for us is that we shouldn’t have put ourselves in that position. We had the game under control, and we let them back into it. I haven’t really had a good look at them (yellow cards). But you can’t afford to put yourself at risk. We could have got a yellow in the first half for what looked a high tackle that we probably got away with.”
Leicester head coach Matt O’Connor said: “We probably had enough opportunities to win, but I certainly wouldn’t say we deserved to win. We left a lot of opportunities on the field. We made a lot of line-breaks, and didn’t execute on those for a number of reasons. We gave Bath a big start, and we weren’t good enough to reel it in at the end.”
Tweet of the match
Star man – Max Clark
Much of the pre-match hype had been about Leicester’s midfield pairing Manu Tuilagi and Matt Toomua starting together as they both returned from long-term injuries, but it was the unheralded 21-year-old who stole their thunder, scoring two tries in six first-half minutes to set Bath off and running towards an outstanding victory.
Moment of the match
Although it came in defeat, it was impossible not to note Tuilagi’s first Premiership try since the opening day of last season. Tuilagi, sidelined by a serious knee injury for eight months, powered over for a touchdown after 25 minutes and his team-mates celebrated jubilantly around him as the midfield dynamo announced his return.
Stat of the match
Bath arrived at Welford Road having not won a Premiership game on Leicester soil since 2003, but they buried that ghost to ensure an outstanding start to the league campaign before hosting European champions Saracens next Saturday.
Leicester: Telusa Veainu 6, Nick Malouf 6, Manu Tuilagi 7, Matt Toomua 7, Jonny May 8, George Ford 7, Ben Youngs 7, Ellis Genge 7, Tom Youngs 6, Logovi’i Mulipola 6, Dom Barrow 7, Graham Kitchener 6, Dominic Ryan 6, Brendon O’Connor 7, Sione Kalamafoni 6. Replacements: Harry Thacker 6, Greg Bateman 6, Dan Cole 6, Mike Williams 6, Luke Hamilton 6, Sam Harrison 6.
Bath: Anthony Watson 7, Semesa Rokoduguni 7, Jonathan Joseph 7, Max Clark 8, Matt Banahan 7, Rhys Priestland 8, Chris Cook 7, Beno Obano 6, Tom Dunn 7, Kane Palma-Newport 6, Luke Charteris 7, Elliott Stooke 6, Matt Garvey 7, Francois Louw 6, Taulupe Faletau 8. Replacements: Jack Walker 6, Nick Auterac 7, Anthony Perenise 6, James Phillips 6, Paul Grant 6, Kahn Fotuali’i 6, Ben Tapuai 6.
Who’s up next?
Bath v Saracens (Aviva Premiership, September 9)
Northampton v Leicester (Aviva Premiership, September 9)