Bath quashed the disappointment of last week's loss with a strong performance against local rivals, Exeter Chiefs. Tries from Dan Hipkiss and Nathan Catt and 13 points from Sam Vesty. Final score 23-19.
A confident start from Bath saw them awarded an early penalty. A well taken catch from a clearing box kick set the Blue, Black and Whites up with an attacking base just outside Exeter's 22. Scrum half Mark McMillan was snagged by an offsideExeterhand in the ruck, providing fellow half back partner, Sam Vesty with a successful penalty goal. 3-0.
The Chief's fly half, Ignacio Mieres' error provided the source ofBath's second penalty. A sliced clearance kick was well collected by centre Dan Hipkiss, followed by theBathpack pick and going five metres from the Chiefs try line. Another offside infringement from the Chiefs didn't provideBathwith any considerable advantage, resulting in referee David Rose reverting to the original penalty. Vesty stepped up and struck his second successful penalty. 6-0.
However, moments after the restart,Bathgot on the wrong side of the referee's whistle and this enabled Mieres to putExeter's first points on the board with a long distance penalty. 6-3.
Ten minutes remained in the first half and although a lot of rugby had been played by both sides, neither team had managed to effectively break through the opposition's defensive line. Despite this,Bathgained themselves another penalty after a sustained period of attack was slowed down, once more, by a waywardExeterbody on the wrong side of the ruck. Vesty kept his clean sheet and added another three points for the home side. 9-3.
Bath's six point lead was hastily reduced again after committing another penalty in the contact. A tricky kick faced Mieres from out on the full on the left side of the pitch, however a superb strike brought the Chiefs back to within three points with two minutes left in this first half. Vesty was unable to add a further three points with another penalty on the stroke of half time, so the score remained 9-6 at the break
Bath had the dream start to the second half with a try within through some individual brilliance from Hipkiss. A well taken up and under by Vesty provided the base with which the forwards drove towards the Chiefs gain line, sucking in the nearby defenders. Quick service from the back of the ruck fed Hipkiss, who stepped and shimmied through the defence using a powerful hand off to break through the initial tackle. Another huge hand off and impressive turn of speed saw the 2007 World Cup England centre sprint to the line leaving his trailing defenders behind him, scoring his debut try in Bath colours. Vesty added the extras. 16-6.
Exeter responded well to the earlier concession, with a handful of phases putting pressure on the Bath defence. With the referee signalling hands in the ruck, Mieres stepped up and clawed back another three points making the scores 16-9 with just over ten minutes played.
Two minutes later, Bath rang a quartet of changes with Nathan Catt, Kane Palma-Newport and Michael Claassens replacing David Flatman, Duncan Bell and Mark McMillan respectively.
Tempers flared in the forwards minutes later after the Chiefs were awarded another penalty after theBathscrum collapsed, with Mieres slotting another three points. 16-12.
Bath turned up the heat with an excellent string of phases. Showing patience and composure theBathboys threw the ball from one touch line to another with Matt Carraro and Hipkiss linking up well. As they neared the Chiefs try line the forwards kept it tight, and with an almighty drive Nathan Catt grounded the ball. Initially unsure of the grounding, referee Rose turned to the advice of theTMO, who after watching the replay, deemed Catt's effort a try. Vesty was on song once more and slotted the conversion. 23-12.
Despite Bath's dominance in the second half, Exeter finished on a high gaining a losing bonus point. A period of sustained pressure found the Chiefs onBath's try line. A penalty against Bath found them defending a scrum on their five metre line and after two collapses, the referees' patience was up and Exeter were awarded a penalty try. Mieres converted making the final score Bath Rugby 23 Exeter Chiefs 19.