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Bath Rugby 37 Exeter Chiefs 15

17 Nov 2013
Bath Rugby 37 Exeter Chiefs 15

Bath Rugby enjoyed a Sunday stroll at The Rec after Matt Banahan and Matt Garvey tries in the first two minutes set up a 37-15 LV= Cup victory over Exeter Chiefs.

Henry Slade hit back with a penalty following the early damage, but Gary Gold’s troops went further ahead in the first half as Martin Roberts crashed over.

Fly-half George Ford also produced a fine kicking display with 12 points while replacement Charlie Beech secured the all-important fourth try.

But in a spirited second-half showing by the Chiefs, James Phillips grabbed a try before Greg Bateman bundled over another consolation late on.

Bath included released England trio Dave Attwood, Anthony Watson and Rob Webber in a strong starting line-up, which also boasted Argentina prop Juan Pablo Orlandi on his full debut.

And the visiting Chiefs made seven changes to the team who were impressive in their LV= Cup opener against Harlequins last week, Phillips receiving the nod at No.8 for his first start of the season.

Rob Baxter’s men were looking for their first victory at The Rec since 1978 – but found themselves in a nightmare situation after the first 60 seconds.

A flowing move – with star man Ford as its fulcrum – was finished with power by wing Banahan after Watson’s sharp off-load.

And the Chiefs were well and truly seeing double a minute later when a fiery Banahan broke two tackles and slung the ball to Garvey, who muscled over the whitewash.

With two Ford conversions the lead was looking ominous already but Exeter found a much-needed spark in England Under-20 star Jack Nowell, his break eventually brought to a halt inches away from the try-line.

Despite Nowell’s efforts the Chiefs only had a penalty to show for it through Slade – before the fly-half failed to eat away at Bath’s total with a miss off the tee soon after.

Bath were again stretching their opponents to breaking point as Watson could not quite haul in Nick Abendanon’s pass with the try-line in sight.

However, Exeter were beginning to show why they are such an exciting unit themselves, Haydn Thomas’ flick narrowly evading the hands of Jason Shoemark.

The momentum shift would not last long as a confident Bath capitalised from the scrum following a cheap Chiefs penalty – and scrum-half Roberts weaved his way though for the score.

The first-half punishment could have been even more painful for the away side if an open Watson had not mishandled Abendanon’s off-load in the 35th minute.

A quick tap penalty from Ford saw the two combine again moments later but once more, the 19-year-old Watson was to be denied his try through last-gasp tackling.

Ford though was on hand to drill through a penalty as the Chiefs faced a 21-point deficit at the break.

Bath were clearly not intent on letting up in the second half as this time centre Jonathan Joseph surged through Exeter lines, but Abendanon again could not pull off the final pass for his teenage wing.

They would have their first second-half points on 49 minutes when Ford stepped up to rack up another three points following Romana Graham’s illegal clearout.

But in a fine show of resilience from the Chiefs, replacement Will Chudley drew a hole for Phillips to touch down after a patient move.

Such was Exeter’s day Slade badly skewed the ensuing conversion attempt wide before Bath continued to press for a bonus point.

And the hosts got them ten minutes before full-time, a bruising drive leaving Beech with the simplest of finishes – Ford’s replacement Tom Heathcote kicking the extras.

The Chiefs made a final flourish at the death when the impressive Chudley set up Bateman to barrel over for his first Exeter try.

However, Heathcote also had time to kick a penalty of his own as Bath rounded off an impressive display.

Be part of the rugby family at the LV=Cup Final at Sandy Park, Exeter on 16 March. Tickets now available www.ticketmaster.co.uk

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