Joe Simmonds slotted a penalty five minutes from time to give Exeter Chiefs a dramatic 18-20 victory over Bath Rugby at the Rec.
Exeter got the first points on the board after six minutes, with Joe Simmonds slotting a routine penalty. It got even better for the reigning Aviva Premiership champions, as they extended their lead with their first try of the game. The Chiefs opted for the pick and go strategy, and after multiple phases, their efforts were rewarded. It was Jonny Hill who found himself under a pile of bodies, and after consultation with the TMO, the try was given. 0-10
10 minutes before the interval, Bath closed the gap to seven points as Freddie Burns fired a penalty through the uprights. With the game heading into the final two minutes of the half, Burns landed a second successful penalty attempt to leave the game closely-poised at 6-10 going into the break.
Half-time – Bath Rugby 6-10 Exeter Chiefs
Exeter were out of the blocks quickly in the second-half, as they continued to test the resolve of a resilient Bath defence. After 20 plus phases, Sam Simmonds provided the crucial burst, with the England international going under the posts to extend their lead with 30 minutes to play. 6-17
Bath were quick to react with a try of their own three minutes later. Burns spotted space out wide and found the on-rushing Matt Banahan with a pinpoint kick to the corner. The winger took the kick in his stride and finished out wide to put his side firmly back in the game. 11-17
The momentum started to turn in Bath's favour, and it wasn’t long before the Blue, Black and White found their way of the try line for a second time. Taulupe Faletau was the architect of the move, as the number eight darted through the Chiefs’ defence and unselfishly offloaded to Paul Grant to finish from close range. Rhys Priestland added the conversion to give Bath a one-point advantage going into the closing 12 minutes. 18-17
Exeter weren’t leaving without a fight, and were a whisker away from their third try of the evening. The TMO was called into action again, and with no clear grounding, play was pulled back for a five metre scrum.
Two minutes later, Chiefs got the breakthrough they needed, with Bath penalised for offside at the ruck. Simmonds made no mistake and added the match-winning points.
Full-time – Bath Rugby 18-20 Exeter Chiefs
23 March 2018
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Half Time score: 6-10
- Tries: Banahan (53), Grant (66)
- Conversions: Priestland (67)
- Penalties: Burns (28, 38)
- Tries: Hill (22), Simmonds (48)
- Conversions: Simmonds (22, 49)
- Penalties: Simmonds (6, 74)