University of Bath came away with a significant 21-34 victory on Wednesday against league leaders Exeter at Topsham Sports Park. The side contained a strong Bath Rugby representation, with seven Bath Rugby Academy players involved in the line-up.
The visitors got off to a quick start, crossing after just five minutes. Bath were patient in the build-up, keeping the play tight and going through the phases before Austin Hay eventually crashed over from close range. Bath Rugby’s Wil Partington was on kicking duty again, the full-back slotting the extras. [0-7]
Exeter hit back on the 19th minute, Olly White going over for the hosts following an impressive rolling maul. Sam Morley made it a seven-point score from the tee and brought his side level. [7-7]
University of Bath went ahead for the second time after 26 minutes. Some good passing play from the visitors setting up scrum-half Ed Rimmer, who ran in to complete a length of the field try. Partington made no mistake with the conversion, taking Bath to seven points in front. [7-14]
The lead was extended seven minutes later, Ethan Hutt going over for the third score of the afternoon, his third try in four games. Some good forward work formed the attacking platform close to the opposition try line from which the ball was spread out to the Bath Rugby winger, who went diving over to score. [7-19]
University of Bath had the final word of the half, Partington crossing for the bonus-point score moments before the interval. Some patience phases from the Blue and Gold forwards allowed for space on the blindside. The ball was spread out to Partington on the short side and the full-back darted over to give his side a healthy lead going into the break. [7-24]
Half-time University of Exeter 7-24 University of Bath
The visitors carried the momentum into the early stages of the second half, a dominant scrum leading to a kicking opportunity for Bath, Partington increased the lead to 20 points from the tee, two minutes into the second half. [7-27]
Exeter reduced the deficit just six minutes later, the try coming in similar fashion to the first. Another impressive rolling maul allowing Rory McMeikan to bundle over from close range, Morley’s conversion sailed through the uprights. [14-27]
Just as Exeter looked to be getting back into the game, Bath got over for their fifth score of the afternoon. A powerful drive from a maul took the forward pack over the whitewash. Partington added the extra two and Bath regained a comfortable lead going into the latter stages. [14-34]
The final score of the afternoon came after 64 minutes through Matt Johnson of University of Exeter. A quick tap penalty from the hosts put them on the front foot, several phases later Johnson powered his way over for his sides third try of the afternoon. [21-34]
Full-time – University of Exeter 21-34 University of Bath
The victory takes University of Bath to just four points off leaders Exeter with just a game left to play. Third place Hartpury have a game in hand, and currently sit three points below Bath. It's all to play for going into the final round of the competition.