Bath Rugby face Exeter Chiefs tomorrow afternoon in a first Premiership semi-final since 2015. Here is a closer look at our opponents at Sandy Park...
This is Exeter Chiefs fifth straight Gallagher Premiership Rugby semi-final, all four previous ones being played at Sandy Park, and all ending in victory. Chiefs have lost their last three Gallagher Premiership Rugby matches but have not lost four in succession since season 2014-15.
Exeter were defeated by London Irish in round 21 in their most recent game at Sandy Park but have not lost successive games in Premiership Rugby at the venue since September 2014.
This is Bath Rugby’s fifth appearance at the semi-final stage but their first for five years, when they obtained their only victory at that stage, 47-10 at home to Leicester. Bath are unbeaten in their last five fixtures since their 23-27 reversal at home to Wasps on 31 August whilst they have not been defeated away from home in Gallagher Premiership Rugby since their last visit to Sandy Park in March.
Exeter have lost only one of their last ten first team fixtures against Bath: 10-13 at the Recreation Ground in round 2 of Premiership Rugby this campaign. Bath’s only victory at Sandy Park since 2014 was 13-10 in October 2016.
The two clubs have met in only one previous semi-final encounter, in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 2014 with Exeter victorious at the Recreation Ground 22-19.
Date: Saturday 10th October
Competition: Gallagher Premiership, semi-final
Where: Sandy Park
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistants: Craig Maxwell-Keys & Adam Leal
TMO: Wayne Barnes
Media coverage: BBC Radio Bristol, BT Sport 1
Wasps (A) – 46-5 (L)
London Irish (H) – 19-22 (L)
Toulouse (H) – 28-18 (W)
Northampton (H) – 38-15 (W)
Saracens (A) – 40-17 (L)
LAST TIME OUT
Exeter Chiefs continue to lead the way at the top of the Gallagher Premiership table after a rampant display at Sandy Park which saw them run in eight tries against Bath.
The writing was on the wall as early as the fifth minute for Stuart Hooper’s side, as Tom O’Flaherty went over in the corner to get the ball rolling, before Olly Woodburn added a second just eight minutes later.
All Bath had to show for their first half efforts was an early Rhys Priestland penalty, while at the other end the pressure was relentless, with Sam Simmonds going over after breaking away from a powerful Chiefs maul.
And the finishing touch from a near-perfect first stanza in Devon came from Jannes Kirsten, who rounded off a fantastic team move to secure the bonus-point before the break, as the Chiefs went into the changing rooms 29-3 to the good.
And the rout continued just seconds after the restart, as Simmonds grabbed his second of the game after weaving through the Bath defence to touch down.
The visitors eventually got their first try soon after as Zach Mercer touched down, before Elvis Taione immediately replied for the hosts as he bundled over from close range.
With the game over as a contest, Bath notched two more consolation scores with Max Wright and Ruaridh McConnochie going over, before Woodburn and Jack Maunder crossed to see the Chiefs break the 50-point barrier for the second time in three Gallagher Premiership matches.
WORD FROM THE EXETER CHIEFS CAMP
Director of Rugby Rob Baxter said: “You can’t compare the two Bath sides from when we faced them before lockdown to now. Bath have shown a different run of form. They are the form side coming out of lockdown and they look like they’re enjoying their rugby.
“They look like they understand what they are doing and that makes any team a challenge. The coaches are more settled in there now so I think we have to go into the game with the understanding that we will need to be at our best.”