Radio Exe Match Report: Exeter Chiefs 21 - 15 Bath Rugby

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Exeter Chiefs secured a quarter final berth in the Investec Champions Cup at a windy Sandy Park, defeating Bath Rugby 21-15 in a comeback victory.

A statement was made early in the encounter as Chiefs won consecutive penalties in the Bath 22 – a breakdown infringement followed by a dominant scrum. The task was made harder for the visitors when hooker Tom Dunn was sent to the sin bin in the fifth minute for a high tackle on Immanuel Feyi-Waboso.

A recurring theme of the day meant Chiefs’ lineout was pivotal to them getting onto the front-foot. Welsh international Christ Tshiunza was integral, stealing a number of Bath’s throws whilst Jack Yeandle – on his 50th Champions Cup appearance – was the veteran leader needed at the set piece for Chiefs.

The visitors were dealt a blow early on, when Finn Russell limped from the turf in just the 15th minute, his afternoon over. Bath were able to find space without their maverick play-maker however and it was the visitors that struck first on the scoreboard.

Going into the corner with a penalty for sealing off at the breakdown, Bath took the lineout well despite the tricky conditions and took a brutal maul to within an inch of the line. The big South African prop Thomas Du Toit then picked up from the base to batter his way over the line. Ben Spencer couldn’t convert the score as the scrum half was kicking into the teeth of the wind.

Chiefs gave a masterclass on exactly how to respond. The referee allowed advantage when Alfie Barbeary couldn’t take the restart and Ross Vintcent tore down upon his opposition back rower, picking ball up from the floor on his way to storming through the Bath line to dive in for the score. With the wind in his favour, Henry Slade added the extras.

Bath retook the lead near the half hour mark. Spencer took his time at the back of the caterpillar ruck, putting a kick up which held in the breeze. Olly Woodburn and Josh Hodge tried to get underneath it for Chiefs, but the towering figure of Ted Hill grabbed it out the air. With surprising pace, Hill outran Hodge and Feyi-Waboso as they looked to track him down, running it in underneath the posts to give Spencer the easy conversion.

The visitors were dealt another blow with ten minutes left in the half as Spencer was removed from the field for a HIA following a head knock picked up in the challenge for a high ball.

Half-time: Chiefs 7 – 12 Bath

Bath made use of the wind early into the second half as Spencer opted for the tee to be called into the field when his side received a penalty just inside the Chiefs half. Striking the ball cleanly, the scrum half put another three points to Bath’s name.

The visitors took a battering in the injury department once again, losing Hill and Cameron Redpath within just a few minutes of one another. Chiefs saw the chance to strike and wrestled back momentum from their west-country rivals. Clean work from the forwards at the scrum and dancing feet from the backs combined to put them within range in the Bath 22.

Working with the short carries and an advantage on their side, it was replacement Greg Fisilau who made the vital pick and go to cross for the try for Chiefs. As Ollie Devoto held the ball and with an onrushing Bath man charging him down, Slade secured the all-important extra two points.

Despite playing into the wind, Exeter struck once again to take the lead. Feyi-Waboso was a thorn in the side of the Bath defence all afternoon, making metres through contact and leaving flailing red jerseys in his wake.

Off the back of another carry from the England international, the Chiefs were just inches from the line. After a dart from replacement scrum half Stu Townsend, it was Ethan Roots who dived over to force the home side into the lead, with Slade once again skilfully adding the extras despite the tricky conditions, curling the ball into the wind and extending the advantage.

With just ten minutes remaining, the intensity from the Chiefs offered Bath no quarter, and the visitors red waves crashed helplessly against a blue wall.

When the final whistle blew, Sandy Park erupted with all eyes now turning to Toulouse and Racing 92, and a quarter final on the horizon.

Full-time: Chiefs 21 – 15 Bath

Chiefs: J Hodge; I Feyi-Waboso, H Slade, O Devoto (Wimbush 77’), O Woodburn; H Skinner, T Cairns (Townsend 57’); S Sio (Southworth 49’), J Yeandle (Innard 67’), E Painter (Street 49’), R Tuima (Pearson 57’), D Jenkins, E Roots, C Tshiunza, R Vintcent (Fisilau 50’).

Unused replacements: Haydon-Wood

Tries: Vintcent, Fisilau, Roots Conversions: Slade 3

Bath Rugby: M Gallagher; J Cokanasiga, O Lawrence, C Redpath (Schreuder 54’), W Muir; F Russell (Bailey 15’), B Spencer (Schreuder 31’); B Obano (Schoeman 62’), T Dunn (Annett 62’), T Du Toit (Stuart 62’), Q Rouz (Stooke 69’), C Ewels, T Hill (Reid 52’), S Underhill (Annett 6’), A Barbeary (Coetzee 67’).

Tries: Du Toit, Hill Conversions: Spencer Penalties: Spencer

Yellow card: Tom Dunn

Referee: Luc Ramos

Attendance: 15,000

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