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Match Reaction: Bath Rugby 24-39 Exeter Chiefs

Match Reaction: Bath Rugby 24-39 Exeter Chiefs

Exeter Chiefs made it six wins from six to top the Gallagher Premiership Rugby table overnight on Friday but needed a powerful second-half performance to overcome Bath Rugby.

In a typically charged match in the West Country, Bath started the better with huge physicality and a first-half try for fly-half Rhys Priestland.

But Exeter are never down for the long and scored the next five tries as Stu Townsend and Don Armand crossed in the first half – with Dave Ewers, Ian Whitten and Jack Nowell all going over in the second.

Bath got one back through replacement scrum-half Chris Cook but it’s Exeter who stay perfect thanks to their suffocating second-half performance – with club legend Gareth Steenson also kicking his way past 1500 Gallagher Premiership Rugby points on a memorable night.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Steenson skippered the Chiefs on the night and gave a captain’s performance from fly-half, kicking 14 points and controlling the game admirably.

The 34-year-old used of all his experience to know when to opt for posts, and when to kick to the corner to allow Exeter’s fearsome mauling game to come to the fore.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Steenson reaching his landmark points figure was a key moment but this game turned on Exeter’s fifth try, touched down by Nowell, that put the game out of the home side’s reach.

Bath were enjoying a spell of pressure inside the Exeter 22 but Henry Slade had other ideas and intercepted a loose pass before almost going the full length – Bath unable to defend the next phase as Nowell slid into the corner.

TRY OF THE MATCH

There were seven tries in this game but perhaps the best was scored first, with Bath attacking off turnover possession in the middle of the pitch.

The ball found its way out to the right and to dangerman Semesa Rokoduguni, who skipped away and chipped over the defence only for, surprisingly to some, Priestland to beat him to the line to touch the ball down.

WHAT THEY SAID

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter commented: “The first half was a little bitty.

“However, the players took hold of the situation by going for the corner about 60 minutes in and they kicked on from there.”

Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder said: “”We keep continuing to hurt ourselves a little bit, which is the most frustrating thing, but I can’t fault the attitude or the effort.

“For the second week in a row, it’s just skill execution and a little bit of game management that have let us down.”

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