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Match Reaction: Exeter Chiefs 26 Bath Rugby 17

Rob Baxter was delighted to see his Exeter Chiefs side beat Bath Rugby for just the second time in 12 meetings as they closed the gap on Saracens at the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table.

The Chiefs lost the corresponding fixture 19-17 in October, but their recent woe against last season’s Aviva Premiership Rugby finalists was put firmly behind them.

Gareth Steenson inspired a 26-17 victory at Sandy Park to move Baxter’s men to within three points of the summit after Saracens were held to a draw by Sale Sharks on Saturday.

Baxter said: “It’s nice to finally redress some of those losses, as we’ve been on the end of some narrow defeats previously.

“We thoroughly deserved to win this one but those tries just either side of half-time did take the wind out of my sails.

“The first try was a soft one to give away as it shifted momentum and our 16-0 lead had suddenly gone, but our discipline was fantastic into the wind.

"We had played very well to build up that 16-0 lead as Bath have one of the best defences in the league.”

Steenson had kicked his team nine points to the good before Ian Whitten touched down after a fine break from James Short.

But tries from Amanaki Mafi either side of the interval brought Bath back to within two points of their visitors.

Victory for Exeter was sealed three minutes from time when Kai Horstmann crossed leaving Bath with one win to show for their last six Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures.

And assistant coach Toby Booth admitted their form is starting to become cause for concern.

He said: “We coaches just look at seven days ahead and seven days back and therefore London Irish next week is our focus. But we could do with registering something in the wins column.

“It’s very disappointing that we’ve got absolutely nothing from this game as we have done extremely well to claw ourselves back into it after a slow start.

“Our set-piece wasn’t good enough at the start so we couldn’t get enough possession.

“When we had a great chance in the second half, we weren’t accurate or clinical and didn’t put ourselves in the right areas of the field when we had the wind in our favour.

“Defeat was our own fault.”

Exeter Chiefs: Dollma, Woodburn, Whitten, Hill, Short, Steenson, Lewis; Moon Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Atkins, Parling, Ewers, Armand, Waldrom
Replacements: Yeandle, Hepburn, Brown, Stevenson, Horstmann, Chudley, Hooley, Bodilly
 
Bath Rugby: Homer, Rokoduguni, Banahan, Eastmond, Agulla, Hastings, Cook, Lahiff, Batty, Thomas, Hooper, Day, Houston, Louw, Mafi
Replacements: Dunn, Obano, Wilson, Ewels, Garvey, Mercer, Evans, Clark
 
Exeter Chiefs
Tries: Whitten, Horstmann
Conversions: Steenson 2
Penalties: Steenson 4
 
Bath Rugby
Tries: Mafi 2
Conversions: Homer 2
Penalties: Homer
 
Referee: Greg Garner
 

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