Having performed heroically over the November autumn international period there is growing optimism that the squad Bath have been developing is showing signs of grit and determination which could enforce a real effort to push into the top four of the Aviva Premiership this season. But the first challenge of December was the English champions Exeter Chiefs and they were given a harsh lesson in the first half as they were put to the sword!
The first forty minutes was torturous for anyone with a connection to Bath rugby, as the scoreboard brightly flashed 28-3, and the Exeter fans not quite believing what they had just witnessed. The champions gave everyone a welcome reminder of their exquisite and attacking flair they possess that lit up the rugby world last season.
Exeter looked deadly every time they ran towards the Bath tryline and in the first half the Bath defence was riddled with holes and were exploited as champions are so capable of doing as Cowan-Dickie, Short, Lees and Armand all scored within a thirty minute period which will have brought Bath’s season sharply back into focus.
The second half was more fruitful for the visitors as both England internationals Anthony Watson and Jonathan Joseph scoring tries and they will be key for the two games against Toulon, Welshman Aled Brew also continued to impress with a try through a well executed finish in the corner. With the clock counting down, the man for all seasons Matt Banahan popped up in the right place just off the back of the scrum to take the ball and went crashing over to ensure Bath went home with one point.
When the team regroup in Farleigh house this week, lessons will need to be learnt from the first half performance, but the second half although the damage was done, it was impressive to run in four tries at Sandy Park and at the end of the season that bonus point could end up being crucial. Bath can take their minds off the domestic game and turn their attention to the Champions cup as they entertain the star-studded Toulon at the Rec this Saturday at 3.15!