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Russell injured early as Feyi-Waboso inspires Exeter to win over Bath

By PA
Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (R) of Exeter Chiefs celebrates victory with team mate Zack Wimbush at the final whistle during the Investec Champions Cup Round Of 16 match between Exeter Chiefs and Bath Rugby at Sandy Park on April 06, 2024 in Exeter, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Bath could not overcome the loss of injured fly-half Finn Russell as Exeter reached the Investec Champions Cup quarter-finals by beating them 21-15 at a windswept Sandy Park.

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Scotland star Russell departed the action after just 15 minutes, before his replacement Orlando Bailey went off hurt during the third quarter.

And the cumulative effect was too much for Bath to absorb as Exeter fought back – into the wind – from eight points adrift.

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The Chiefs, tournament winners in 2020, scored tries through number eight Ross Vintcent, replacement Greg Fisilau and flanker Ethan Roots, with Roots’ England colleague Henry Slade kicking three conversions.

Bath claimed first=half touchdowns from prop Thomas du Toit and flanker Ted Hill, while captain Ben Spencer added a conversion and penalty, but they could not build on a 15-7 lead approaching the hour-mark.

Match Summary

0
Penalty Goals
1
3
Tries
2
3
Conversions
1
0
Drop Goals
0
176
Carries
66
5
Line Breaks
1
19
Turnovers Lost
9
3
Turnovers Won
11

Exeter will face French heavyweights Toulouse or Racing 92 in the quarter-finals next weekend, and they will take considerable confidence into the game, given the fierce resolve they showed to sink their west country rivals.

Exeter, with a strong wind at their backs, made the early running and quickly established a temporary numerical advantage when Bath hooker Tom Dunn was yellow-carded following a high tackle on Chiefs’ England wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso.

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Bath, though, weathered the storm and made their first entry into Exeter’s half in the 10th minute, being helped by some poor handling and wrong options by the Chiefs.

But the visitors suffered a huge blow when Russell limped off, leaving them to play for more than an hour minus their mercurial talisman.

Weather conditions were dominating the game, yet Bath had a ruthless edge and they scored from their first attack as a driven lineout ended with Du Toit touching down.

Spencer’s conversion attempt was blown wildly off target, but Bath were then their own worst enemies when number Alfie Barbeary spilled the restart and gifted Vintcent a try that Slade converted for a two-point lead after 24 minutes.

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But back came Bath when Spencer’s speculative high kick was caught cleanly by Hill, who outpaced chasing Exeter defenders, including speedster Feyi-Waboso to claim an opportunist score, with Spencer adding the conversion.

Spencer then departed for a head injury assessment, and while Exeter launched phase after phase deep inside Bath’s 22, they could find no way through an outstanding defence and trailed by five points at the interval.

As if to emphasise the elements now being firmly in their favour, Bath’s advantage was extended by a 50-metre Spencer penalty that also underlined Exeter’s escalating degree of difficulty.

Bailey’s 54th-minute exit, though, saw Exeter capitalise, as a spell of concerted pressure was rounded off by Fisilau touching down and Slade’s conversion narrowing the gap to a point.

And it got even better for the home supporters when Roots rewarded impressive approach work by Feyi-Waboso to claim his team’s third try, with Slade judging the wind brilliantly to add the conversion.

Bath tried to rescue the contest as the clock ticked down, yet they could find no way through an Exeter defence that was supremely committed and organised.

And Chiefs closed the game out, helped by Bath losing an attacking lineout on their own throw, to once again reach the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

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