Exeter take a victory away from the Recreation Ground in an arm-wrestle of a Premiership return fixture.
The Premiership champions take a victory away from the Recreation Ground in their return to Premiership action this evening. Returning England star, Sam Simmonds, put in a man-of-the-match performance in round 18, seeing his side squeeze out a hard-fought affair in Bath.
Physical yet patchy, an adequate description of the first 60 minutes of the weekend's opening fixture. Bath and Exeter went blow-for-blow, with both sides enjoying moments of ascendancy at the game line.
BT Sport commentator Ugo Monye described the clash as "one of the most physical Premiership games I've seen this season".
Both of Exeter's tries came through patience and persistence in typical Chiefs manner. Jonny Hill and Sam Simmonds both crashed over Bath's line within less than a metre, with young gun Joe Simmonds converting both scores.
Bath's brace of tries came through some lovely attacking play, with Freddie Burns sending a kick across the field for Matt Banahan on the 53rd minute and Rhys Priestland releasing Taulupe Faletau through the Chiefs’ defence for Paul Grant to eventually cross for their final score 13 minutes later.
In the end, the Chiefs managed to outlast the home side and crease out their mistakes and inaccuracies of the first-half. Conversely, Bath struggled to maintain their composure for the full 80, slowly conceding to Exeter as the night went on.
The arrival of Rhys Priestland on the 60th minute had sparked Bath's attack back into life, building upon the foundations of physicality build in the first hour. However, two costly knock-ons from the Welsh international cost his side crucial field position and possession, leading on to Simmonds' score.
Rob Baxter's side sail 11 points clear at the top of the table, but may not hold such a sizeable lead with ten Premiership sides yet to take to the field this weekend.
Bath take a bonus point away from the loss, but also see the hopes of a play-off spot slowly edge out of reaching distance. To add insult to injury, star tighthead Henry Thomas left the field with a particularly painful looking shoulder injury in the second half.
Tries- Banahan (54), Grant (66)
Conversions- Priestland (67)
Penalties- Burns (28, 38)
Tries- Hill (22), Simmonds (48)
Conversions- Simmonds (23, 49)
Penalties- Simmonds (6, 75)