Bath Rugby’s run in the LV=Cup came to an end as they fell 19-22 at the Semi-Final stage to a determined Exeter Chiefs side.
Bath couldn’t have wished for a better start, the Chiefs’ kick-off finding Nick Abendanon, who broke through and offloaded to Horacio Agulla. The Argentine was brought down near the visitors’ tryline, but the supporting Leroy Houston was on hand to complete the scoring effort. Heathcote converted to make it 7-0 after only one minute.
Chiefs narrowed the gap to four points within the first ten minutes when fly-half Henry Slade slotted a simple penalty from in front of the post after Bath infringed at the ruck. 7-3.
Heathcote responded with a penalty of his own near the fifteen-minute mark to regain that seven-point buffer. 10-3.
It took ten minutes for Chiefs to find a way back in. Gavin Henson had tracked back to make a try-saving tackle, but in doing so was penalised for not releasing his man. Not only was he yellow-carded, but Chiefs then took advantage of the 14-man Bath defence to score out wide through fullback Luke Arscott a minute later. Slade’s conversion attempt failed, but it was now 10-8.
Four minutes from half time, Chiefs brought down Bath’s lineout in their own half, and Heathcote showed good nerve and accuracy to strike a great penalty to take his side into the second half with a five-point lead.
Half Time: Bath Rugby 13 – Exeter Chiefs 8
Chiefs again brought down a lineout eleven minutes into the first half to give Heathcote another shot at goal. The fly-half took it, and Bath now led 16-8.
Shortly after the restart, Bath hoisted a high ball which Arscott ran onto in the midfield. Catching the defence cold, he ran in from near halfway to score under the posts. Slade converted, and now there was only one point in it. 16-15.
It was from a near-identical position that, three minutes later, replacement Chiefs wing Fetu’u Vainikolo displayed incredible strength to burst through two tackles to score under the posts in a double-blow to Bath. Slade again converted, and now the Chiefs led 16-22.
Bath clawed back in the 62nd minute through a Heathcote penalty, which made it 19-22. However, the home side were unable to capitalise on any further penalties against the visitors, with a long-range penalty effort dropping just short for Chiefs to run the ball dead.
Full Time: Bath Rugby 19 – Exeter Chiefs 22