Exeter thrash Bath to return to Premiership summit
Exeter moved back to the Gallagher Premiership summit after a first-half blitz saw them claim a 57-20 bonus point hammering of Bath.
Two tries each from wing Olly Woodburn and number eight Sam Simmonds and one each from wing Tom O’Flaherty, lock Jannes Kirsten, hooker Elvis Taione and replacement Jack Maunder saw the Chiefs dominate. Fly-half Joe Simmonds landed a penalty and five conversions and his replacement Gareth Steenson struck over two conversions.
Bath managed tries from number eight Zach Mercer, centre Max Wright and wing Ruairdh McConnochie, with fly-half Rhys Priestland kicking a penalty and replacement Freddie Burns landing a conversion. But the damage was done from a poor Bath first-half effort was punished ruthlessly by Exeter, with the Chiefs 29-3 up at half-time and with a try bonus point already in the bag.
That lead was based on a scrummage that dominated the visiting pack and incisive attacks. When threatened, particularly in the last moments of the half, Exeter’s defence stood solid as Bath tried in vain to extract a try for a foothold in the match.
The Chiefs could have been fired up after losing to Harlequins the previous weekend and began the onslaught when a solid scrum-five under the Bath posts in the sixth minute saw scrum-half Nic White send a wide ball right for O’Flaherty to stroll into the corner.
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Priestland booted a penalty for Bath but the storm was about to break. Woodburn nearly scored from an Ian Whitten grubber to the right corner but would not be denied and grabbed Exeter’s second when centre Tom Hendrickson broke through the middle and fed the winger for an easy run-in.
Joe Simmonds increased the lead to 15-3 with a penalty and, as Bath struggled to get any possession, number eight Sam Simmonds got the third touchdown, breaking around the blindside from an attacking lineout maul. Bath lost lock Josh McNally to the sin-bin for a high tackle, and Exeter’s bonus point try was not long coming from there as Kirsten drove over from a ruck two metres out.
A bold quest for game time and fulfilment when his outlook was bleak took Sam Hidalgo-Clyne to exhilarating places and some of Europe’s premier rugby teams… @JLyall93 catches up with the club-hopping @Hidalgoclynehttps://t.co/QqNwYvP978
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 3, 2020
Simmonds converted three of the tries against the wind and 57 seconds after the re-start, he was kicking another two points after brother Sam went under the posts for his second try. Bath finally found a way to break the home defence and from a run penalty under the Exeter posts, Mercer scored.
It was countered, though, moments later as the Chiefs again reached the Bath try line, this time for Taione to wriggle over. Again, however, Bath scored when Wright went over from ten metres, with Priestland’s replacement Freddie Burns adding the extras.
McConnochie made the score respectable with Bath’s third, picking up on a dropped ball on the Exeter 22. But Exeter were not finished as Woodburn got his second and Maunder dashed over for their eighth try, finishing the rout.
– Press Association
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