The Gallagher Premiership season is over three months old and a disheartened Bath still can’t buy a win. They came considerably closer here but ultimately couldn’t secure the deal, a successful 77th-minute try from their number eight Sam Simmonds securing Exeter a hard-earned victory.
Bath now has up to eight games without a win and trails the field by eight points with its fixture list offering little prospect of quick relief. Next weekend they are due to travel to Northampton, 36-20 winners just down the A4 in Bristol, with question marks still hanging over their ability to turn a youthful promise and the occasional moments of attack potential in the very important currency of the valuable league points.
Exeter was by no means at his best, but when it mattered they had the nerve to throw the fatal blow of the match, having refused an equalizing penalty on goal in favor of an offensive scrum in the shade home poles. With the result in balance, Simmonds had already been held over the line and tackled a few inches, but this time nothing stopped him as the England squad member had sprinted out of base to break Bath’s heart.
Until then, despite Dave Ewers returning for the first time since mid-October, and Henry Slade returning from his productive fall with England, Exeter was not going his way. The Chiefs, as their rugby manager Rob Baxter later acknowledged, are still not shooting at full blast and their sixth straight win on the River Avon was as much the product of persistence and patience as anything else. thing.
Bath, with Sam Underhill, Charlie Ewels, Will Stuart and Josh Bayliss all returning from Test to bolster their field, had established a 10-3 lead at the end of the first quarter thanks to a point blank roster ended by Miles Reid and Orlando Bailey’s right boot. Scrum-half Ben Spencer, who only appeared for the second time this season, was also making a noticeable difference.
Slade kept Exeter in touch with a few well-hit penalties, but Bath supporters were less than impressed when play was cut short after Tom De Glanville, chasing his own chip, stumbled after touching retired Stuart Hogg . Neither team was particularly confident and Sean Lonsdale’s late withdrawal due to illness had also forced the Chiefs to place Don Armand in second in the absence of more recognized locks such as England’s Jonny Hill and the Scottish Jonny Gray.
The end change, however, seemed to galvanize visitors. In less than three minutes Bath found himself under pressure near his own line and this time the Chiefs weren’t denied as their shaggy Kiwi mainstay Josh Iosefa-Scott landed a shot from close range to give the advantage to his team for the first time. Slade’s wide-angle conversion worsened the pain for Bath, who had also lost Reid with a seemingly painful shoulder injury.
How much Bath was left in the tank? Bailey crushed another penalty to tie the score once again and Slade missed a chance to regain the lead. Bailey’s third penalty after 64 minutes brought the score to 16-13 for the hosts and despite the arrival of Harry Williams in first place, it wasn’t until the last quarter that the Chiefs finally got their advantage. decisive on set piece, with a final penalty. of Joe Simmonds extending the final margin to seven points.
Elsewhere, two tries from Tommy Freeman and a bonus point from England teammate George Furbank helped the Saints claim a meaningful victory at Ashton Gate, which puts them in fourth place, one point ahead Exeter.
Gloucester is a point further in sixth with a 35-33 victory over the Wasps at Coventry. A pair of tries from Billy Twelvetrees propelled the Cherry and Whites to a 30-12 lead with half an hour remaining, with two late tries from Jacob Umaga not quite enough to save the home side.
Meanwhile winds of up to 100mph in the northeast have forced the Premiership game between the Newcastle Falcons and the Worcester Warriors to be postponed for 24 hours for safety reasons. The game at Kingston Park will now begin at 6 p.m. today, Saturday.