'His pace is outstanding... he brought that energy when we most needed it'
Exeter Chiefs head coach Ali Hepher praised the impact of Scotland captain Stuart Hogg on his return from Six Nations duty as he helped inspire a fine fightback over Bath and secure a 42-22 victory at Sandy Park.
The Chiefs trailed bottom side Bath 22-7 just before the break, but two converted tries turned the match on its head, and Exeter dominated the second period, scoring four more touchdowns to seal an ultimately comfortable victory.
Hogg played a key part in two of the Chiefs’ tries and scored one himself near the end, and Hepher said: “His pace is outstanding and he got an opportunity to kick his goals as well.
“His energy and speed is right up there and he brought that energy when we most needed it.”
Looking back on the disappointing first 35 minutes, Hepher added: “To come through that is quite pleasing, but what we have got to make sure is we do not put ourselves in that position in the first place.
“When we started to keep the ball in the second half, we started to score tries, but we were in a tough game for long periods.
“We needed to find some energy, and attack the game without the ball as well as with the ball, and we started to make breaks and give ourselves opportunities but we didn’t take them and that builds pressure. It was important to just get our heads right in a positive sense and start playing rugby.”
With Sale and Gloucester losing this weekend, it has been a good weekend for Exeter, but Hepher said: “You can’t control any of that and our focus is with ourselves, though results elsewhere are going to be important as it is a little bit out of our hands.”
Bath head coach Neal Hatley said: “We had good control for 35 minutes, and we showed really good attacking intent, but in that five minutes before half-time we lost control.
“We massively let Exeter back in, especially with the second try, and I am disappointed with what looks like a blow-out at the end by us, and I don’t think the game was really like that.
“We did some good things as a team, but we made some individual errors that we need to tidy up on and we have got to do better.”
Wingers Will Muir and Joe Cokanasiga caused Exeter lots of problems in the first half, and Hatley added: “We are blessed with some very good wingers at the club, and Will came in for Semesa Rokoduguni and I thought he was outstanding.
“There are lots of positives from the game but we can’t keep saying we are heading in the right direction or things are getting better. We need to win games.”
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