Premiership: Exeter Chiefs 29-10 Bath
|Exeter Chiefs (17) 29|
|Tries: Devoto, Yeandle, penalty try, Woodburn Cons: Simmonds 2 Pen: Simmonds|
|Bath (10) 10|
|Try: Catt Con: Priestland Pen: Priestland|
Exeter Chiefs extended their lead at the top of the Premiership to nine points with a win over Bath at Sandy Park.
They scored 26 unanswered points on the way to securing a top-four finish.
Ollie Devoto, Jack Yeandle and a penalty try put Chiefs in control, before Olly Woodburn's try sealed a bonus point with five minutes left.
Bath went 10-3 up early on but failed to score again after Nathan Catt's converted try in the 15th minute.
Exeter have a nine-point lead over second-placed Saracens with five games to play, while five more points would secure a home semi-final for the Chiefs.
It was the visitors who started the game stronger and took the lead after just four minutes through a Rhys Priestland penalty, after Exeter infringed in front of their own posts.
They could have gone further ahead when Ruaridh McConnachie made a scything break, before passing inside to Zach Mercer but the number eight knocked on when in a good position.
Exeter responded well and levelled with a penalty from Joe Simmonds, who came in as a late replacement after Gareth Steenson was injured in the warm-up, while Woodburn had a try chalked off by the TMO, who ruled that he had crawled to the line after being tackled.
However, the crowd did not have to wait long for the first try of the game, which came when Bath prop Catt powered over from close range.
Exeter then hit back again with Simmonds throwing an excellent dummy pass to draw the defence, before releasing Devoto who dotted down under pressure.
Simmonds' conversion levelled the game and Chiefs took the lead for the first time just before the break, scrum-half Nic White finding Don Armand before the back-rower played a lovely inside pass for Yeandle to score.
Both sides had chances in the early stages of the second period, but from then on it was all Exeter and the pressure told on Bath, who committed a series of penalties near their own line, resulting in a penalty try and a yellow card for Beno Obano.
Simmonds overthrew a pass to Woodburn as Exeter pressed for their fourth try, but the winger was not to be denied.
With Chiefs backs lining up to score, Santiago Cordero found Woodburn, who crossed the whitewash for the bonus-point win.
Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter told BBC Radio Devon:
"We have achieved our top four target and we know there is a semi-final coming, now we've got to dictate where it's going to be and that's very much in our hands.
"I've said to the players it's up to you where you finish because it's up to you to keep collecting points as quickly as we can. We have to keep training and playing like a team that has ambitions to win the whole thing, because you don't just turn up on the day and win it.
"Bath challenged us and we had to man up, so I'm delighted that we kept them to only 10 points as in some ways they may have merited more."
Bath attack coach Girvan Dempsey told BBC Radio Bristol:
"It was a massively frustrating game as we were well in that and played some great rugby, but I suppose ultimately it was a case of missed opportunities.
"We didn't convert chances into points. There were a couple of big momentum swings in each half and then we tried to chase it and they capitalised when we were trying to overplay.
"It's frustrating as their tries didn't come from a huge amount and they didn't have to work that hard for them. There was a lot of really good stuff that we were pleased with, but we have to be more consistent in our actions and efforts."
Exeter: Cordero; Nowell, Slade, Devoto, Woodburn; Simmonds, White; Hepburn, Yeandle, Williams, Dennis, J Hill, Ewers, Armand, Kvesic.
Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Keast, Francis, Lees, Skinner, Maunder, O'Flaherty, S Hill.
Bath: Homer; Cokanasiga, Joseph, Roberts, McConnochie; Priestland, Chudley; Catt, Dunn, Thomas, Stooke, Ewels, Ellis, Louw, Mercer.
Replacements: Walker, Obano, Perenise, Douglas, Underhill, Fotuali'i, Burns, Clark.
Referee: Karl Dickson
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