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Ageless Mike Brown and Leicester dominate weakened Bath to secure a bonus-point victory.
Rugby union Sport

Ageless Mike Brown and Leicester dominate weakened Bath to secure a bonus-point victory.

Mike Brown presented a compelling argument for a renewed contract with Leicester while Bath’s head coach, Johann van Graan, experienced the consequences of his risky selection in the Midlands.

Van Graan fielded a secondary team against the Tigers, who were ultimately overwhelmed by the home team. Veteran player Brown, who was playing on the wing, and the lock duo of George Martin and Ollie Chessum were key players in the game.

38-year-old Brown, a former England player, is optimistic about securing a contract renewal with the team. His impressive display in this game only strengthened his case. He is a timeless player who shows no signs of slowing down.

In his 50th match for Leicester, Chessum and Martin were paired together for the first time at the club level. They dominated the Bath pack and helped Leicester regain momentum in their pursuit for the playoffs.

They secured the bonus point by half-time and closed the margin between themselves and fourth place to just seven points. A loss could have put them at a significant disadvantage.

Bath and Van Graan had an opportunity to start the new year in first place, but they were never in the running as Leicester dominated the match. As a result, the visitors will finish 2023 in fourth position.

The Leicester head coach, Dan McKellar, shared that Brown is at the heart of negotiations and the club is close to finalizing a contract extension for him at Welford Road.

McKellar stated that he is putting in maximum effort to retain him at the club and they will assess the situation in the upcoming days. He emphasized that they are not saying goodbye to him.

“You are not playing professionally at his age to the level he is, if you are not the ultimate pro. I talk about paid rugby players and professional rugby players and he is professional rugby, and that is why he is still playing now.”

During the match, both GJ van Velze and Jaco Coetzee, who played in the back row, were shown yellow cards. This did not benefit the visiting team, as the Tigers were able to dominate and defeat them.

The announcement of Bath’s team was made on Friday, however, many fans were confused and disappointed to see key players like Finn Russell, Joe Cokanasiga, Ollie Lawrence, Ben Spencer, Beno Obano, and Alfie Barbeary missing from the lineup in front of a sold-out crowd of 25,849. Despite this, Van Graan stood by his decision to field a weaker team for the match in the Midlands.

Handré Pollard tackles Max Ojomoh as Leicester dominate Bath

“Irrespective of the team playing, receiving two yellow cards against Tigers puts you in a tough situation,” he stated. “Although I believe we had sufficient opportunities, we lacked precision during the match. I have no regrets and continue to support our team, whether we win or lose together. Our goal was to win, but we fell short.”

“I will not make a fuss about selection, as some players have already played a significant amount of rugby. Our focus is on developing our squad, not just pleasing individuals. Every decision is part of a larger plan, we don’t simply make last-minute choices without thought.”

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Bath is scheduled to play against lower-ranked Gloucester next weekend, followed by matches against Racing 92 and Toulouse in the European games. They are currently in a good position to advance in the Champions Cup, having defeated Ulster and Cardiff. While this was an opportunity to continue their strong performance in the league, they were unable to capitalize on it.

Bath took the lead in the beginning as scrum-half Louis Schreuder intercepted a pass from Handré Pollard and ran to the try line after three minutes. However, Leicester had secured their victory by half-time.

The team’s successful driving line out resulted in points being scored by flanker Matt Rogerson and prop James Cronin, with their tries sandwiching a try by Brown.

Martin received the bonus-point goal, marking only the third instance this season that Leicester has scored four tries. Bath’s chances were already slim before the end of the first half. They were only able to add a penalty from Orlando Bailey and Schreuder’s try just before half-time.

The second half saw a continuation of the same pattern, as the Tigers were able to score a penalty try in the 43rd minute. This allowed McKellar to substitute the outstanding openside flanker, Tommy Reffell, after 52 minutes.

Martin was an early departure and Bath was able to score late with substitutes Louie Hennessey and Ewan Richards, but the game was already decided. This was evident as soon as Bath revealed their starting lineup.

Source: theguardian.com