Bath U18s 26 Chiefs U18s 12
By Mark Stevens
Exeter Chiefs slipped to a second successive defeat in this season’s Premiership Under-18s League, this time going down 26-12 to Bath at Marlborough College.
In a match bursting with excellent width, surgically precise kicking, turnovers and some monster hits, it was Bath who stormed into an early lead as hooker Max Pearce touched down from a compact Bath maul.
Bath doubled their lead just five minutes later as an explosive break from England Under-18 international Sam Harris released Kacey Pike on a powerful surge up field. The No.8 had options either side, but decided to release winger Max Ashton who raced home from 30 yards for the try converted by Harris.
Down 12-0 inside the opening quarter, the Chiefs rallied impressively to restore parity by the break after flanker Barnaby Elderkin crossed from a fast-moving maul, before Louie Drennan claimed the visitors second score, which he was also able to convert.
The early exchanges of the second half proved just as competitive, before Bath regained the lead on the hour mark when replacement hooker Tommy McLean barged over from a well-constructed home line-out.
The impressive Harris landed the extras to that score from wide on the touchline, before he wrapped matters up in the dying embers when he dinked a lovely grubber in behind the Exeter defence, before gathering the ball again and sliding over for the try.
Chiefs Academy coach Marc Dibble said post-game: “It was a much better performance from the team in what were very wet conditions. Although disappointed to lose, it was pleasing to see aspects that we have been working on in training being performed in the game.
“Our play either side of half time was very good and it was just a shame we couldn’t turn that possession into further points. What we are seeing, though, is improvement week by week and we are looking to really attack our next game against Harlequins.”
Bath: J Redman (M Ashton 58); B Lloyd-Gilmour, W Parry (I Davies 65), S Harris (capt), M Ashton (R Crum 55); R Weston, I Davies (S Curwen 46), T Hill (M Surry 44), M Pearce (T McLean 33), B Sela (E Baker 44); E Erskine (M Jenkins 66), M Jenkins (A Salah 53); J Haythornwaite (JJ O’Connell Wozniak 53), G Timmins, K Pike (H Matthews 44)
Chiefs: D Hamilton-Strong; J Statton, L Drennan, G Edson, J Baker-Hands (M Smale 44); N Dart, M Stone (J Walker 49); J Thomson (J Ballett 34, T Gulley 55), P Harris (H Roberts 49), T Gulley (A Rolls 49); J Sheppard (J Salvi 47), J Bailey (capt), B Elderkin, S Findlay, E Kershaw (W Saltmarsh 8)
Referee: N Wood