Semesa Rokoduguni broke Exeter Chiefs hearts after his 89th minute try secured a famous 13-10 Bath Rugby win at Sandy Park.
Mitch Lees’ score from a powerful Exeter driving maul looked to have rescued victory for Chiefs, but Bath’s powerful scrum ensured piled on the pressure as the game built to a thrilling crescendo and Rokoduguni added the finishing touched.
George Ford missed two kickable penalties in the first half, while Gareth Steenson knocked over an easy three points to ensure Rob Baxter’s men had the slenderest of leads at the break.
Exeter reverted to their traditional strengths for their only try, but it was not enough as Bath moved clear of Leicester Tigers in third place in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table and only two points behind second-place Wasps.
Ford missed an early kickable penalty from in front of the posts and the sides remained scoreless until the 16th minute when Kahn Fotuali’i was penalised for hands in the ruck and Steenson made no mistake with the easy kick.
The Samoan scrum-half looked to make amends moments later, tapping quickly from a scrum penalty, but after he was pulled back by Ian Tempest for going too early, Ford again missed a straightforward shot on goal.
Bath had the better of possession for the most part, but an interception late in the first half saw Exeter bombarding the visitors’ line only for Dave Lewis to throw two wayward passes that put his side under pressure.
Some superb work at the breakdown from Matt Garvey then releaved the pressure on Bath, as the half ended with a penalty kicked into touch.
Dave Atwood looked to have celebrated his England call-up in emphatic fashion as he powered home from 25 metres immediately at, but Tempest spotted a forward pass and the lock was denied.
— Dave Attwood (@Dmjattwood) October 30, 2016
It was Ford instead who started the second half on the right foot, putting over a penalty after four minutes, but again both sides saw their build-up play punctuated with handling errors as defence dominated.
England No. 10 Ford struck a vital blow with less than 15 minutes to play, kicking a fine penalty to put Bath ahead for the first time.
But when Chiefs’ pack started to rumble from a way out with ten minutes left, they looked unstoppable and when Lees bundled over, Sandy Park looked set for a hard-fought Exeter win.
After a series of re-set scrums, Ford almost set Rokoduguni away down the right wing with an accurate tackle, but he was collared and Bath recycled the ball.
Bath refused to wilt and Blackadder watched on as England man Rokoduguni barged through several tackles to silence the Sandy Park crowd before Ford knocked over the conversion.