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Match Reaction: Bath Rugby 31 Exeter Chiefs 14

Mike Ford revealed how he will be giving his players three days deserved rest after Bath Rugby recorded their fifth successive Aviva Premiership Rugby win with a 31-14 defeat of Exeter Chiefs.

Bath fell behind to a Matt Jess breakaway midway through the first half but were in charge thereafter with Horacio Agulla and Kyle Eastmond giving the hosts a 14-7 half-time lead.

Jack Nowell’s intuition pulled Exeter level after the break but it was all Bath thereafter as Dave Attwood dotted down a driving maul and Ford added a penalty to make it 24-14.

Fly-half Ford then produced the pass that allowed Anthony Watson to score at the death for the bonus point and also converted – all while Mitch Lees was in the bin for the Chiefs.

Bath went top with the win ahead of Northampton Saints’ clash with Harlequins and, with eight days until their trip to Leicester Tigers next up, head coach Ford wants his players to rest up.

“We have had Quins, Montpellier twice, Gloucester and now Exeter, so five big games in a row in some pretty heavy conditions,” said Ford.

“The boys are going to have a break now, we are going to let them be off until Wednesday and then we have another big game against Leicester away.

“We need to be fresh for that one because that will be a tough game, we are pleased with where we are art the moment but we know there is a long way to go.

“We are 18 months into the philosophy and environment that we’re creating and, although we didn’t win anything in 2014, I think we ruffled a few feathers and rattled a few cages.

“We are in a good place but it is a very, very tough league and if we take our eye of the ball for one minute we know we will get beat by anyone.

“The players are going to have a few days off to re-energise and we will come in fresh for the Leicester game.”

Meanwhile Exeter head coach Rob Baxter wants an immediate response from his players as they face another derby clash with Gloucester Rugby a week from now next Saturday.

“We’ve had two tough away games over Christmas, and what we have got to do now is double our efforts for a very important game next weekend at home against Gloucester,” he said.

“If you want to stay at the top end of the table, you have got to win your home games. I’ve said to the lads if we had come here and won it wouldn’t have won us the Premiership.

“So we have got to make sure that coming here and losing doesn’t have too big of an effect on our season. It was a tough game against a team that is playing very well, and we’ve come up short, but it should not decide our season.”
 
Bath: Watson; Agulla, Joseph (Burgess 62), Eastmond, Banahan; Ford (Devoto 788), Cook (Young 64); Auterac (James 41), Webber (Batty 48), Thomas (Wilson 66); Hooper, Day (Attwood 48); Garvey, Louw, Houston (Fearns 64)
 
Exeter: Dollman; Nowell, Slade, Hill, Jess (Horstmann 71); Steenson (Whitten 73), Chudley (Thomas 57); Moon (Rimmer 53), Yeandle (Cowan-Dickie 53), Low (Francis 53); Mumm, Welch (Lees 13); Ewers, Armand, Waldrom
Replacements: Vainikolo
 
Scorers:
 
Bath Rugby
Tries: Agulla, Eastmond, Attwood, Watson
Conversions: Ford 4
Penalties: Ford
 
Exeter Chiefs
Tries: Jess, Nowell
Penalties: Steenson 2
 
Referee: JP Doyle
Attendance: 13,300

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