Bath Rugby maintain unbeaten record over Exeter Chiefs

It was a case of deja vu at Sandy Park as Bath Rugby once more came away 9-12 victors, having recorded a win of the same score in the corresponding fixture last season, which took place almost a year to the day. The win also maintained Bath's unbeaten record over their South West rivals.

The game started at a high tempo with both sides looking to attack fast and use the width of the pitch to try and break the gainline.

Olly Barkley had the chance to take an early lead for the visitors when they were awarded a penalty, but the kick, about three metres into the Chiefs' half, fell short. Exeter were penalised again moments later, but Barkley's kick drifted wide.

The game sparked into life for Bath on nine minutes, as Ben Skirving broke through the midfield. The ball was recycled, and Barkley, seeing Tom Biggs open on the wing, threw the wide pass. Biggs raced through the Exeter defence and touched down, but referee David Rose ruled the pass was forward and the try disallowed.

Both sides were looking to run the ball and get pace on the game, but strong defences meant any breaks were quickly snuffed out. The game remained scoreless until the 34th minute, when Chiefs' fly-half Ignacio Mieres slotted a penalty. He doubled the score on the stroke of half-time, with a little help from the upright, giving the home side a 6-0 lead going into the break.

A break from Tom Heathcote at the beginning of the second half led Bath to within inches of the try line only for a knock on to occur at the vital moment. Exeter won the resulting scrum and cleared their lines. However, 38 metres out, the home side were penalised at the breakdown and Heathcote stepped up to land the difficult penalty, getting Bath's first points on the board.

The score seemed to spur Bath on and they enjoyed a strong period of pressure going into the final quarter of the match. A well taken line-out saw the ball moved quickly across the pitch and into the Exeter 22, with Bath breaking through to within metres of the try-line as Rose played the penalty advantage. The attack broke down though, and play was brought back for Heathcote to slot the penalty in front of the posts, levelling the scores. 6-6.

Mieres and Heathcote exchanged another penalty a-piece in quick succession, keeping the scores level and leading to a tense 15 minutes for both teams.

A break from Exeter wing Matt Jess looked dangerous, but the solid Bath defence stood firm and forced the knock-on. Bath won the resulting scrum, and Heathcote cleared to give the visitors good field position. A secure line-out and powerful driving maul saw Bath awarded another penalty, and Heathcote again struck the ball well, making it four from four for the young fly-half, and giving the visitors the lead. 9-12.

Exeter attempted to build some pressure in the closing minutes of the game, but they couldn't find a way through, and a line-out stolen by Dave Attwood in the last minute sealed the victory for Bath. Replacement prop Charlie Beech snaffled the ball, and after a few slow phases, Michael Claassens kicked the ball out to end the game. Final score Exeter Chiefs 9 – Bath Rugby 12.


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