Bath overpowered west country rivals Exeter to make it two wins out of two in the LV= Cup – claiming a bonus point for good measure.
They caught Exeter cold with early tries from Matt Banahan and Matt Garvey and added further touchdowns by Martin Roberts and Charlie Beech, with George Ford and Tom Heathcote sharing 17 points from the boot. Exeter’s tries came from James Phillips and Greg Bateman as they slipped to a 37-15 defeat.
Exeter, 19-5 victors over Harlequins last weekend, have not beaten Bath in any competition since breaking into the top flight but have every incentive to make the LV= Cup final on March 16 because
their own impressive stadium at Sandy Park will be hosting it.
That looked a tall order when their makeshift line-up fell 14-0 behind to two tries in the first three minutes. First, Ford slipped through a gap and Carl Fearns and Jonathan Joseph carried the move on for Banahan to touch down.
From the restart, Ford collected a deft offload by Dave Attwood to break out of the Bath 22, supported by Nick Abendanon. The full-back set Banahan free again and the big left wing broke attempted tackles by Haydn Thomas and Luke Arscott to supply the scoring pass to the big blindside Garvey. Ford converted both tries from wide out.
Exeter looked for an early reply but Jack Nowell was hauled down just short of the line by the covering Abendanon. Bath conceded a penalty at the ensuing scrum and Henry Slade made it 14-3 after eight minutes.
Bath, with an edge in the set-piece, had a chance to add to their lead from a five-metre scrum but then needlessly conceded three penalties in quick succession and spent 10 minutes defending their line.
Fearns and co were up to the task however and a rolling kick from Ford put the pressure back on Exeter, forcing Arscott into an error. On 32 minutes, scrum-half Roberts nipped through for Bath’s third try,
again converted by Ford, who also added a penalty to give his side a 24-3 lead at the break.
The fly-half chipped over a second penalty early in the second half when the hard-working Fearns was illegally cleared out from a ruck.
Just after the hour mark, Exeter finally put together their most fluent passage of play and number eight Phillips picked a good line to score, only for Thomas to hook his conversion attempt.
Bath responded 10 minutes later with the bonus-point try, scored by replacement prop Beech after a catch-and-drive was halted on the visitors’ line. Heathcote landed the conversion.
Three minutes from time, prop Bateman burrowed through to score Exeter’s second try, converted by Ceri Sweeney, but Heathcote had the last word with a short-range penalty.