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Bath boost play-off push with bonus-point win at Exeter

By PA
EXETER, ENGLAND - APRIL 20: Max Ojomoh of Bath celebrates after scoring his side's third try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Exeter Chiefs and Bath Rugby at Sandy Park on April 20, 2024 in Exeter, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Bath took a huge step towards securing a Premiership play-off spot with a battling bonus-point 26-14 win over Exeter at Sandy Park.

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In claiming victory, Bath avenged their 21-15 Champions Cup loss to Exeter a fortnight ago but the Chiefs, following last week’s heavy quarter-final defeat at Toulouse, looked a leg-weary side and are now in real danger of missing out on the play-offs.

Alfie Barbeary, Max Ojomoh, Miles Reid and Ben Spencer scored Bath’s tries with Spencer adding three conversions as they moved up to second in the table.

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Olly Woodburn and Stu Townsend touched down for sixth-placed Exeter, both scores being converted by Henry Slade.

With the wind in their favour, Bath made the better start with a thumping tackle from Ted Hill on Josh Hodge securing an early attacking platform but stout defence from the Chiefs kept their line intact.

The first 14 minutes were a non-event until a controversial call by the officials saw them take no action against Exeter’s England wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso after he clattered Will Muir in the air as he chased a kick ahead from Tom Cairns. Scores of replays were viewed but play was surprisingly allowed to recommence with a scrum.

That was the only incident of note in a dull and scoreless first quarter before Bath had the chance to put the first points on the board, only to twice turn down kicks at goal in favour of attacking line-outs.

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One was a sitter straight in front of the posts but Bath’s positivity was rewarded when Barbeary powered over to give his side the lead in the 27th minute.

Spencer fired over the touchline conversion before a poor kick from Ollie Lawrence gave the hosts their first entry into the visitors’ 22.

Exeter looked to have made it count when Cairns darted over from close range but TMO replays showed an earlier obstruction so the try was ruled out.

A minute before the interval, Bath scored a crucial try.

Just inside his own half, Charlie Ewels burst away from a line-out before sending Spencer on a 35 metre-run to the line. Spencer again converted from the touchline to leave his side with a deserved 14-0 half-time advantage.

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Five minutes after the restart, Exeter got themselves back in contention when a long pass from Ollie Devoto provided Woodburn with a walk-in to reward a period of sustained pressure.

However, Bath responded in style when first Cairns failed to deal with a kick ahead from Ojomoh to leave the centre with just a simple pick-up to score before replacement forward Reid drove over for the bonus-point try.

Spirited Exeter replied with a try from Townsend as the home side dominated the final quarter but Bath had enough in the tank to secure a valuable five points.

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