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Bath Rugby withstand Chiefs onslaught to win season opener

Bath Rugby 19 v Exeter Chiefs 17

The eleventh Premiership Rugby encounter between Bath Rugby and Exeter Chiefs went down to the wire at the Rec this afternoon, with the home side edging the season-opening match 19-17. 

The first half started brightly for Bath as fullback Tom Homer broke through two tacklers in Exeter's half, before knocking on in contact. Chiefs played the advantage, and it proved to be just that as the ball found James Short, the wing scoring a near length-of-the-field effort. Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson was unable to convert, but Exeter were buoyed scoring a try with less than a minute on the clock. 

The home side were able to register their first points of the match through fly-half George Ford minutes later as the Bath pack won a penalty at the scrum. 3-5. 

Before the first ten minutes were up, Steenson had furthered his side's lead with a penalty a metre outside the home 22. 3-8. 

From that moment until the half-time whistle was blown, Bath were made to defend for extended periods of time as Exeter launched attack after attack. Nevertheless, the home defence held firm and displayed great patience.

Bath's moment came half an hour in. Ford, in possession on halfway, popped a league-style pass over the head of an onrushing Chief. His pass was received by Anthony Watson, who drew his man on the wing and offloaded to none other than captain Stuart Hooper, who galloped in for an astonishing try. 

Ford gave Bath the lead for the first time as he converted Hooper's try to take the score to 10-8. 

The home side looked to hold onto their lead as the first 40 ticked down, but it wasn't to be: Matt Banahan was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on and Steenson closed out the half with a penalty.

Half time: Bath Rugby 10-11 Exeter Chiefs 

Despite still being one man down, it was Bath who notched up the first points in the second half, as Ford's penalty saw them take the lead. 13-11.

The lead wasn't long-lived, as Steenson cancelled out Ford's with a penalty of his own. It was tit-for-tat once again, though, as Ford punished Chiefs' indiscretion at the ruck with another penalty. 16-14.

With 14 minutes remaining in the match, and Bath defending for all they were worth in their 22, replacement flanker Sam Burgess was shown a yellow in front of his posts. From there, Steenson made it a one-point affair. 16-17. 

Only three minutes were left when Bath and George Ford struck the decisive blow with a penalty inside Exeter's 22. Decisive with hindsight, that is, since Bath soon found themselves having to defend for all they were worth in the final seconds of the match thanks to a lineout stolen by Chiefs.

In the event, and painful to watch as it was for the home support, Bath's defence proved watertight, and replacement centre Henry Slade dropped a futile kick at goal to end proceedings. 

Full time: Bath Rugby 19-17 Exeter Chiefs 

Match details

Recreation Ground
Aviva Premiership
17 October 2015
KO 14:00

Attendance: 12,957
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Half Time score: 10-11

Bath:
Tries: Hooper (35)
Conversions: Ford (36)
Penalties: Ford (6, 46, 53, 77)
Exeter:
Tries: Short (0)
Penalties: Steenson (9, 40, 51, 66)

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MATCH STARTS

Match underway between Bath and Exeter.

1'

Try for Exeter! Bath 0 - 5 Exeter

James Short scores for Exeter.

7'

Penalty Goal! Bath 3 - 5 Exeter

George Ford kicks a penalty goal for Bath.

10'

Penalty Goal! Bath 3 - 8 Exeter

Gareth Steenson kicks a penalty goal for Exeter.

36'

Try for Bath! Bath 8 - 8 Exeter

Stuart Hooper scores for Bath.

37'

Conversion! Bath 10 - 8 Exeter

George Ford with a conversion for Bath.

40'

Yellow Card!

Bath lose Matt Banahan for ten minutes.

41'

Penalty Goal! Bath 10 - 11 Exeter

Gareth Steenson kicks a penalty goal for Exeter.

41'

HALF TIME

Match score: Bath 10 - 11 Exeter.

SECOND HALF STARTS

We’re underway again.

47'

Penalty Goal! Bath 13 - 11 Exeter

George Ford kicks a penalty goal for Bath.

47'

Substitution

Moray Low replaces Alex Brown for Exeter.

47'

Substitution

Nikola Matawalu replaces Chris Cook for Bath.

47'

Substitution

Sam Burgess replaces Alafoti Fa'osiliva for Bath.

47'

Substitution

Alec Hepburn replaces Ben Moon for Exeter.

50'

Substitution

Henry Slade replaces Sam Hill for Exeter.

52'

Penalty Goal! Bath 13 - 14 Exeter

Gareth Steenson kicks a penalty goal for Exeter.

54'

Penalty Goal! Bath 16 - 14 Exeter

George Ford kicks a penalty goal for Bath.

54'

Substitution

Rob Webber replaces Ross Batty for Bath.

54'

Substitution

David Wilson replaces Henry Thomas for Bath.

54'

Substitution

Jack Yeandle replaces Luke Cowan-Dickie for Exeter.

59'

Substitution

Max Lahiff replaces Nick Auterac for Bath.

62'

Substitution

Max Clark replaces Kyle Eastmond for Bath.

63'

Substitution

Julian Salvi replaces Dave Ewers for Exeter.

66'

Yellow Card!

Bath lose Sam Burgess for ten minutes.

67'

Penalty Goal! Bath 16 - 17 Exeter

Gareth Steenson kicks a penalty goal for Exeter.

67'

Substitution

Kyle Eastmond replaces Max Clark for Bath.

67'

Substitution

Dave Lewis replaces Will Chudley for Exeter.

67'

Substitution

Guy Mercer replaces Stuart Hooper for Bath.

78'

Penalty Goal! Bath 19 - 17 Exeter

George Ford kicks a penalty goal for Bath.

82'

FULL TIME! It’s a win for Bath.

Final score: Bath 19 - 17 Exeter.

Bath Player Scorecard
NameTriesConvPenDropPts
George Ford014014
Stuart Hooper10005
Exeter Player Scorecard
NameTriesConvPenDropPts
Gareth Steenson004012
James Short10005
Bath v Exeter
P D C T Pos Player   Player Pos T C D P
    PNick
Auterac
1Ben
Moon
P    
    HRoss
Batty
2Luke
Cowan-Dickie
H    
    PHenry
Thomas
3Alex
Brown
P    
   1LStuart
Hooper
4Mitch
Lees
L    
    LDave
Attwood
5Damian
Welch
L    
    FLMatt
Garvey
6Dave
Ewers
FL    
    FLAlafoti
Fa'osiliva
7Don
Armand
FL    
    8Leroy
Houston
8Thomas
Waldrom
8    
    SHChris
Cook
9Will
Chudley
SH    
4 1 FHGeorge
Ford
10Gareth
Steenson
FH   4
    WAnthony
Watson
11James
Short
W1   
    CKyle
Eastmond
12Sam
Hill
C    
    CMatt
Banahan
13Ian
Whitten
C    
    WSemesa
Rokoduguni
14Matt
Jess
W    
    FBTom
Homer
15Phil
Dollman
FB    
Replacements
    RHRob
Webber
16Jack
Yeandle
RH    
    RPMax
Lahiff
17Alec
Hepburn
RP    
    RPDavid
Wilson
18Moray
Low
RP    
    RFLSam
Burgess
19Ollie
Atkins
R    
    RLGuy
Mercer
20Julian
Salvi
RFL    
    RSHNikola
Matawalu
21Dave
Lewis
RSH    
    RCMax
Clark
22Henry
Slade
RC    
    RJeff
Williams
23Olly
Woodburn
R