Premiership: Bath 16-38 Exeter - Chiefs overpower hosts in comeback win

By Rob StevensBBC Sport
Sam Simmonds scores a try for Exeter Chiefs
Exeter number eight Sam Simmonds scored his 13th Premiership try of the season in the win at Bath
Gallagher Premiership
Bath (13) 16
Try: McConnochie Con: Priestland Pens: Priestland 3
Exeter Chiefs (12) 38
Tries: O'Flaherty 2, S Simmonds, S Skinner 2, Gray Cons: J Simmonds 4

Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs came from behind to beat Bath and record a first win in three games.

Ruaridh McConnochie's try and two Rhys Priestland penalties put Bath 13-0 up, but Tom O'Flaherty and Sam Simmonds crossed to hit back for the Chiefs.

Priestland stretched Bath's lead with another penalty before the visitors went in front and secured a bonus point courtesy of two tries from Sam Skinner.

Jonny Gray and O'Flaherty crossed late on to underline Exeter's superiority.

The Chiefs travelled to Bath having suffered narrow defeats against Northampton and Sale, and the Devonians found themselves on the back foot in the opening stages as the hosts stretched the game.

McConnochie brilliantly gathered Priestland's cross-kick ahead of Jack Maunder before spinning to touch down in the corner.

But Exeter forced their way back into the game towards the end of the first half, with a line-out inside the Bath 22 setting the platform for O'Flaherty to cross before Simmonds rounded off a period of pressure with a close-range finish to notch his 13th try of the domestic campaign.

Priestland edged Bath 16-12 in front 15 minutes after the break with his third penalty of the afternoon, stretching his record streak of successful kicks in the Premiership to 36.

Exeter then took control in the final quarter of the contest, as the power of their forward line told and the Blue, Black and Whites tired.

Skinner's pick-and-go score put them ahead before the lock added a close-range finish to give the visitors breathing space.

The bonus-point win sees second-placed Exeter remain six points behind leaders Bristol Bears, who won at Worcester in the late kick-off, while Bath stay 10th after seeing their three-match winning run come to an end.

Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper told BBC Radio Bristol:

"For 50 minutes we played the best rugby we have played all year. They struggled with us and we caused them a number of problems with the ball in hand.

"After 55 minutes we lost a bit of control, were on the back foot momentum-wise and gave away penalties.

"It ends up looking like a bit of a hammering, but I thought we were better than that.

"Against champions you can't make mistakes and still get back in the game. You end up going from a pretty dominant position to losing the game."

Exeter head coach Ali Hepher told BBC Radio 5 Live:

"It was a disappointing first 20 minutes, but we fought hard in that period. Bath are a tough side and take a lot of wearing down.

"Once we had established our game, the forwards took control and the scrum was going well.

"In the second half we were able to find our attacking rhythm and get on top. Our belief grew and then you saw a true Exeter Chiefs team.

"We celebrate any win in the Premiership because it is brutal, especially this year."

Bath: De Glanville; McConnochie, Joseph, Matavesi, Muir; Priestland, Spencer; Obano, Dunn, Thomas, McNally (capt), Stooke, Faletau, Underhill, Mercer.

Replacements: Walker, Bhatti, Judge, Ellis, Reid, Chudley, T Schoeman, Cokanasiga.

Exeter: Hogg; Cordero, Whitten, Devoto, O'Flaherty; J Simmonds (capt), Maunder; Hepburn, Innard, Williams, Gray, S Skinner, Ewers, Vermeulen, S Simmonds.

Replacements: Taione, Moon, Francis, Lonsdale, Kirsten, Townsend, H Skinner, Hendrickson.

Referee: Tom Foley (RFU).

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