Bath explain their 'keeping the foot on the throat' attitude
Bath head of rugby Johann van Graan savoured a six-try, 41-24 victory over Exeter having earmarked it as one of the big games of the season. “I knew this was going to be a battle,” he said.
“We prepared that way and we started really, really well, going 12-0 up. This was one of our best-disciplined performances but in the first entry we gave them (to our 22), they scored off the one phase.
“Going into half-time we spoke about it being a 23-man effort and that we had to manage the weather and the big moments. I felt we did that in the second half.”
He added: “We managed their yellow card really well in terms of getting momentum, something that we have worked on – keeping the foot on the throat.
“I thought we created a lot in the first half. Not everything went to hand but we had a dominant scrum and the lineout went well tonight. Once we got over the gain line we were difficult to beat.”
Sam Underhill was awarded player of the match and van Graan was not about to disagree with that verdict, saying: “I thought he was really good, with some big moments, not only defensively but also from an attacking point of view: his running lines, his offloading decisions, when to keep the ball and when to offload.”
Attention now turns to the Investec Champions Cup and the visit of Ulster to The Rec next Saturday, with every likelihood that Bath tighthead Thomas du Toit will confront his fellow Springbok Steven Kitshoff.
Van Graan said: “We fought so hard last season to be in the Champions Cup. It’s a competition that I love. With the club I coached before [Munster], I learnt so much about what it is about and its history. We will enjoy tonight and on Monday morning it’s all about the Champions Cup.”
Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter said he could look “very positively” at his side’s showing in the first eight games of the league season, but lack of discipline undermined their effort against Bath.
“The yellow card murdered us; in that period of the game where it got away from us. But by the time that happened, we had been the architects of a lot of what happened at the end.
“Our penalty count at one stage was 13-3. I genuinely know the lads are working hard but sometimes, how quickly we lose the direction of our energy is quite scary. We scramble really well, which is part of what we are good at, and then someone goes off their feet and it’s a penalty.
“Then it’s territory, then it’s a try and we are on the back end of the scoreboard through a lack of discipline. We need to find the root causes.”
Reflecting on the first eight games and happy that his side had scored three tries and been competitive throughout most of the game, he added: “We have had some good results and we are kind of at the right end of the table and that’s nice. We need to be careful we don’t expect too much of this squad though.”
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