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Home » Cricket » Exeter 29-10 Bath: Hosts secure play-off spot with emphatic bonus point

Exeter 29-10 Bath: Hosts secure play-off spot with emphatic bonus point

Exeter will be the beach boys this week – resting before the run-in in the perfect place, nine points clear at the top of the Premiership and some good Sandy Park vibrations to keep them rattling along.

With this latest bonus-point victory over Bath, the Chiefs secured their playoff place five matches before the end of the regular season.

Joe Simmonds – a late replacement for injured Gareth Steenson – conducted them through it, and they won with a penalty try and scores from Jack Yeandle, Olly Woodburn and Ollie Devoto.

Ollie Devoto (left) crossed for the final try that confirmed Exeter's bonus point win over Bath

Ollie Devoto (left) crossed for the final try that confirmed Exeter's bonus point win over Bath

Ollie Devoto (left) crossed for the final try that confirmed Exeter’s bonus point win over Bath

MATCH STATS 

EXETER: Cordero; Nowell, Slade, Devoto, Woodburn; Simmonds, White; Hepburn, Yeandle, Williams, Dennis, J Hill, Ewers, Armand, Kvesic.

REPLACEMENTS: Cowan-Dickie, Keast, Francis, Lees, Skinner, Maunder, O’Flaherty, S Hill.

TRIES: Devoto, Yeandle, penalty try, Woodburn

CONS: Simmonds 2

PENS: Simmonds  

BATH: Homer; Cokanasiga, Joseph, Roberts, McConnochie; Priestland, Chudley; Catt, Dunn, Thomas, Stooke, Ewels, Ellis, Louw, Mercer.

REPLACEMENTS: Walker, Obano, Perenise, Douglas, Underhill, Fotuali’i, Burns, Clark.

TRIES: Catt

CONS: Priestland

PEN: Priestland

REFEREE: Karl Dickson

And as most of his squad will be resting while Saracens prepare for their European quarter-final battle against Glasgow, Rob Baxter thinks it will benefit the Chiefs as they will be fresh come the warmth of the sun.

‘Having two fewer games than Saracens can potentially help you, energy-wise,’ said the Exeter boss.

‘The internationals will have this week off until Monday, so we have some nice breaks built in to refocus and re-energise.

‘We don’t want to splutter through the last five games, I’d like to see us looking like a team that is building a destiny towards being in home semi-finals, finals, lifting trophies.

‘I want us to build belief in ourselves in disbelief in other sides.’ 

Exeter do not lose here in the Premiership much. They have not in 408 days now, since Worcester beat them 5-6 in February 2018, and the Chiefs knew another four points at Sandy Park would guarantee them a playoff place for the fourth consecutive season.

Bar any seismic shocks it looks inevitable they will face Saracens in a Twickenham final for the third time in four seasons.

Eddie Jones made his first trip of the season to Sandy Park to watch the league leaders

Eddie Jones made his first trip of the season to Sandy Park to watch the league leaders

Eddie Jones made his first trip of the season to Sandy Park to watch the league leaders

England centre Ollie Devoto crashed over to open the scoring for Exeter from close range

England centre Ollie Devoto crashed over to open the scoring for Exeter from close range

England centre Ollie Devoto crashed over to open the scoring for Exeter from close range

A minor hiccup before the game, when Gareth Steenson had to pull out with a sore calf picked up in the warm-up, did not faze them. Joe Simmonds came in to start and won man of the match.

The 22-year-old hit a penalty and the conversion to both first-half tries. He set up the first try too, jinking away before putting Ollie Devoto crashing over.

The second score came thanks to lovely work from Henry Slade and Woodburn – all hustle, bustle and gliding feet – before Don Armand threw a super inside-pass to Jack Yeandle.

The hooker, sun shining on his bald bonce, powered past Anthony Perenise and Tom Dunn.

Hooker Jack Yeandle went over to register the Chiefs' second try of the match

Hooker Jack Yeandle went over to register the Chiefs' second try of the match

Hooker Jack Yeandle went over to register the Chiefs’ second try of the match

Exeter had conceded a penalty from Rhys Priestland early on, had a score disallowed when Woodburn smashed over Ruairdh McConnonchie but crawled illegally to the line, then conceded a try when Nathan Catt bundled over.

However, in holding Bath out before the break with a miserly defensive effort they took momentum and the lead into the second half.

Fifteen minutes into the second half Bath remembered Joe Cokanasiga was playing on the wing and gave him the ball. 

He battered through a few defenders but, holding the ball in one hand which annoys Eddie Jones, knocked on.

Jack Nowell outshone rival England wing Joe Cokanasiga and was heavily involved throughout

Jack Nowell outshone rival England wing Joe Cokanasiga and was heavily involved throughout

Jack Nowell outshone rival England wing Joe Cokanasiga and was heavily involved throughout

The England wing made a stunning try-saving tackle to deny Zach Mercer

The England wing made a stunning try-saving tackle to deny Zach Mercer

The England wing made a stunning try-saving tackle to deny Zach Mercer

JACK NOWELL v JOE COKANASIGA 

Jack Nowell out-shone England wing rival Joe Cokanasiga here, largely because Bath forgot to use their most powerful asset.

Nowell was selected ahead of the 21-year-old for the Scotland game in the Six Nations and beat the 6ft 4in man to a kick early on.

The Chief also showed his defensive skills when hunting down Zach Mercer for a try-saving tackle.

But while he was his usual bundle of energy Cokanasiga could not find room to roam. One trade-mark break saw him carry in one hand, but knock on.

The statistics showed Cokanasiga made seven runs for 55 metres, to Nowell’s 58 from nine, but it felt the former was thoroughly under-used.

Jones was here on his first visit to Sandy Park of the season, and second only live viewing of the country’s table-toppers, but moved from his seat in the West Grandstand at half-time.

Sam Underhill came on for his first game since December 30 having missed the Six Nations with ankle ligament damage.

Beno Obano appeared too, on his third game back after destroying his leg in England training last season.

But he was sent to the sin-bin when the Bath scrum collapsed and Exeter were awarded a penalty try.

With five minutes left Exeter had their bonus point. 

Swinging it left, Slade found Simmonds, Santiago Cordero was almost intercepted by Homer but eventually found Woodburn. 

Simmonds missed the wide conversion but it did not matter.

Bath are seventh and Todd Blackadder said: ‘This season has been strange. We want to fight for everything and be in the top six – stranger things have happened.’

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