Bath Rugby started their campaign with a 28-14 defeat to Exeter Chiefs in the Premiership Rugby Cup, but the Blue, Black and White will take a lot of positives from a second-half showing, which saw them fight back from 21-0 down at half-time.
Bath handed full debuts to Tom de Glanville and Rhys Davies, as well as Gabriel Hamer-Webb, Nahum Merigan and Max Ojomoh, who all signed Academy contracts ahead of the 2019/20 season.
It was nearly the perfect start for the visitors, with Chris Cook nearly finding himself on the end of his own chip over the top. With penalty advantage looming, the scrum-half showed quick thinking to dink the ball over the Chiefs’ defence, but was just beaten to the ball by the covering defender.
It took 19 minutes for the deadlock to be broken and it was the hosts, who found themselves in front. Finalists in the competition four out of the previous five years, Tom Wyatt burst over the line following a well-executed move off the back of the line-out in the Bath 22. Chiefs’ record points scorer, Gareth Steenson added the extras. [7-0]
Bath continued to dominate the territory and Levi Davis was close to reducing arrears moments later, but Jackson Willison’s clever offload just missed its target on the right wing.
The home side showed their clinical edge, as Olly Woodburn created his side’s second of the day with a fleeting run. The winger made good ground into the Bath half and Tom Hendrickson was the man to profit a few phases later, as the centre dived under the sticks. Steenson made it two from two from the tee. [14-0]
Woodburn added a score of his own three minutes before the interval following another set-piece move. Hendrickson turned provider with a delicate pop pass, and the Woodburn went in under the posts. Steenson made it three from three with the conversion.
Half-time – Exeter Chiefs 21-0 Bath Rugby
Bath showed their grit and determination as they scored their first of the afternoon. Tom de Glanville, who was superb under the high ball all afternoon at full-back set a solid platform for Bath to mount an attack. The ball was swept wide and Ojomoh sent the ball to Levi Davis, who stepped past two defenders to score. Alex Davies added the conversion to close the gap. [21-7]
Levi Davis was at the heart of Bath’s second, as the quick-footed flyer accelerated down the wing and found de Glanville was on hand in support. The full-back in turn fed Chris Cook, who touched down to score. Alex Davies made it a seven-point ball game. [21-14]
Bath continued to test the resolve of the Chiefs defence, but Rob Baxter’s men landed the decisive blow with seven minutes. It was an opportunist run from replacement scrum-half Joe Snow, who broke through the defensive line to put Barrie Karea through under the sticks.
Full-time – Exeter Chiefs 28-14 Bath Rugby
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Premiership Rugby Cup
21 September 2019
Referee: Adam Leal
Half Time score: 21-0
- Tries: Wyatt (18), Hendrickson (29), Woodburn (36), Karea (72)
- Conversions: Steenson (19, 29, 36, 73)
- Tries: Davis (47), Cook (63)
- Conversions: Davies (48, 64)