Loffreda under pressure after defeat to Bath

first_imgShares00 Support The Guardian Bath 26-12 Leicester Tue 15 Apr 2008 22.10 EDT Premiership Read more Share on Facebook Share on WhatsApp Share on Pinterest Bath moved to within two points of the leaders Gloucester, their opponents on the final day of the regular league season, after one of their less arduous victories over Leicester. The Tigers played for the most part with claws retracted and slumped to sixth in the table, increasing the pressure on their head coach, Marcelo Loffreda, who has come under fire from supporters who are angered at the prospect of a season without a trophy.It was a bizarre game. Bath spent the entire opening half on the attack and virtually all the second defending a healthy lead, not overly exerting themselves in the quest for a bonus point after scoring three tries in the first 40 minutes, conserving energy for future battles. Leicester, who made 14 changes from the side that started last Saturday’s EDF Energy Cup final, looked anything but champion and will probably need to win their final three matches to make the play-offs.Leicester played in white and it was as if Leeds had turned up rather than the champions. They only left their own half in the first period after restarts, and then not for long, and their performance was curiously lopsided. They missed a number of first-up tackles, but their scramble defence was excellent.They only looked comfortable in possession when Aaron Mauger came on at the start of the second period, but even when Bath were down to 13 men at the end, the Tigers never looked convincing and Loffreda acknowledged they would need to win their final three matches to make the play-offs, again cursing the fixture schedulers who made them play last night four days after the EDF final.Bath scored their first try after two minutes when the prop Matt Stevens, who ran like a centre all evening, profited from some poor tackling, but the home side had to wait until stoppage time for their second and third when Ayoola Erinle was spending 10 minutes in the sin-bin for preventing release of the ball from a ruck. The hooker Lee Mears scored the second and the wing Matt Banahan claimed the third, but Bath squandered four other prime opportunities through a mixture of over-exuberance and last-ditch tackling, although there was no excuse for the flanker Jonny Faamatuainu, who dropped the ball over the line. Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, chosen ahead of Olly Barkley, caused havoc in midfield, dancing in and out of tackles and powering through others before hobbling off with an ankle injury, and a 23-0 interval lead was scant reward for Bath’s utter dominance.James’s third penalty immediately after the restart put Leicester further adrift but the Tigers, refreshed by the infusion of backline replacements Aaron Mauger and Johne Murphy reached uncharted territory on 46 minutes when they broke into Bath’s 25.They stayed there for a few minutes and Humphreys caught his own chip to score a try that was greeted by the crowd with a stunned disbelief. They added a second at the end, when Bath had two players in the sin-bin, and they will probably have to win their final game of the season, at home to Harlequins, to make the play-offs, but if Quins and Wasps keep winning, even that may not be enough. Whatever the outcome, Loffreda faces a summer of rebuilding.Bath Maddock; Higgins, Crockett (Barkley, 68), Fuimaono (Stevenson, 80), Banahan; James, Claassens; Flatman (Bell, 35), Mears (Dixon, 68), Stevens, Borthwick (capt), Grewcock (Short, 68), Faamatuainu (Goodman, 79), Lipman, Browne.Tries Stevens, Mears, Banahan. Con James. Pens James 3.Sin-bin Claassens, 71; Banahan, 76.Leicester Vesty; Varndell, Erinle, Cornwell (Mauger, 44), Dodge (J Murphy, h-t; Davies, 80); Humphreys, Laussucq (F Murphy, 64); Ayerza (Moreno, 80), Kayser, White, Blaze, Kay (capt), Croft, Pienaar, B Deacon (Crane, 77).Tries Humphreys, F Murphy. Con Humphreys.Sin-bin Erinle, 31Referee W Barnes (London). Attendance 10,600. 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