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Exeter Chiefs 12 Bath Rugby 12

29 Dec 2012
Exeter Chiefs 12 Bath Rugby 12

Tom Heathcote’s nerveless conversion and Bath Rugby’s never-say-die attitude earned a 12-12 draw and denied Exeter Chiefs in this war of attrition in the Aviva Premiership.

Gareth Steenson’s four penalties had put Exeter 12-5 up with half an hour to go but Bath had been knocking on the door despite the torrid conditions and finally made their pressure count.

On 76 minutes, they were awarded a deserved penalty try and replacement Heathcote made no mistake with the kick to seal a hard-earned draw.

In wet and windy conditions, it was always likely to be tight and Steenson’s accuracy with the boot looked like it would prove pivotal for the Chiefs in this West Country derby.

The Chiefs went ahead on 12 minutes when Bath were penalised after a lineout and Steenson broke the deadlock but Bath, reeling from their 22-0 hammering by Saracens last time out, responded almost immediately.

After a Bath penalty to touch handed the visitors position deep in Exeter’s 22, visiting scrum-half Michael Claassens produced the first moment of magic to cross in the left-hand corner.

Kicking into the wind, Stephen Donald missed the conversion but that stirred Bath who held their own in for the rest of the first half despite having the worst of the conditions.

That was until just before the interval when a Bath offside gave Steenson the chance to put the Chiefs ahead at the interval – one he duly accepted from 38 metres.

Roared on by a crowd of more than 10,000, the Chiefs came flying out of the blocks in the second half and extended their lead on 44 minutes when again Bath were penalised for being offside.

Again Steenson made a mockery of the conditions and he broke into double figures on 49 minutes in a carbon copy of the previous effort.

Bath did their utmost to hit back and began knocking on the door but when a break appeared visible, handling errors crept in.

Safe in the knowledge that their seven-point deficit would hand them a bonus point, Bath continued on the offensive but trench warfare continued as the conditions deteriorated and the clock ticked down.

With five minutes remaining however, Bath were awarded a penalty and kicked for the corner.

They won the subsequent lineout and drove for the line and the Chiefs illegally stopped their maul, leaving referee David Rose with no option but to award the penalty try.

Heathcote, on for Donald, kicked a nerveless conversion and Bath held on for the two points, meaning the Chiefs failed to get back to winning ways after seeing their six-game unbeaten run in all competitions ended last time out by Gloucester Rugby.

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