Tremendous Team Bath complete double over league leaders Exeter to take BUCS Super Rugby title chase into final week
In-form Team Bath men’s 1st XV produced another magnificent performance to win at table-topping Exeter University this afternoon and ensure the BUCS Super Rugby title race would go into the final week of the season.
The 34-21 success at Topsham Sports Ground saw the Fulkers-sponsored Blue & Gold, who are also supported by MJ Church, complete a first league double over Exeter and close to within four points of their South West rivals in the league standings.
Team Bath will be looking to continue that momentum when they welcome Loughborough to the University of Bath Sports Training Village in the final game of the regular league season on Wednesday, March 6 (6.30pm kick-off, free entry to spectators).
Head of Rugby Aaron James said: “I thought our forwards were especially good as they paved the way for a lot of the things that went well. It was also great to see so much belief and confidence in the boys which was highlighted by our decision to run it from our own line to score one of our best, if not the best, tries of our the season.
“Obviously we are pleased to be in our position at the right end of the table but it’s all about our next performance. We need to stay focused as there is still an awful lot that we need to improve on if we want to go one step further this year.”
Team Bath went into the top-of-the-table clash full of confidence after three successive victories and needed just five minutes to open the scoring through an Austin Hay try which was successfully converted by Will Partington.
Exeter levelled midway through the first half, Sam Morley converting Olly White’s try, but Team Bath responded superbly as a quick break following an intercept resulted in scrum-half Ed Rimmer finishing off a magnificent length-of-the-field try, with Partington adding the extras.
Partington increased the lead with a try that he converted himself and he repeated the trick in the dying seconds of the half to secure the bonus point and a 24-7 advantage at the interval.
A Partington penalty added to that just after the restart before Exeter cut the gap as Rory McMeiken dotted down from a maul, Morley again converting.
Team Bath again responded immediately and notched another converted try of their own, this time with Ethan Hutt crossing the whitewash. Partington nailing another conversion but was sent to the sin bin moments later and Exeter took advantage of the extra man to score through Matt Johnson, Morley’s conversion making it 34-21 with 15 minutes to go.
That was how it remained, though, as the visitors dug deep to see out the victory. They missed a penalty in the last minute but it had no effect on the result, meaning Team Bath closed to within four points of the leaders.
Captain Alex Burrage said: “To produce a defensive performance like we did after a five-day turnaround says a lot about the desire of this group and the culture that we are all buying into. Alongside that, I thought our set piece was outstanding and we were clinical with possession.
“I’m massively proud of the whole squad effort to go down to Exeter and do the double over them this season but it is a massive week for us now building into Loughborough to give us an outside chance at winning the league.”
Exeter University starting XV: 15 M’Boge, 14 Davies, 13 Chatterton, 12 Elderkin, 11 Blee, 10 Morley, 9 Thompson; 1 Pieterse, 2 Gosling, 3 Salkeld, 4 Morgan, 5 Jaiani, 6 Schroter, 7 White, 8 McMeikan. Replacements: 16 Hamilton, 17 Johnson, 18 Bliss, 19 Yates, 20 Rouse, 21 di Chio, 22 Bazalgette, 23 Marchant.
Tries: Olly White, Rory McMeiken, Matt Johnson.
Conversions: Sam Morley (3).
Team Bath starting XV: 15 Will Partington, 14 Ethan Hutt, 13 Alex Nisbett, 12 Will Butt, 11 Brandon Bellamin, 10 Alex Burrage, 9 Ed Rimmer; 1 Arthur Cordwell, 2 James Hadfield, 3 Austin Hay, 4 Angus Hinton, 5 Jack Davies, 6 Jack Kenningham, 7 Chris Barry, 8 James Catlin. Replacements: 16 Beck Cutting, 17 Jack Buckingham, 18 Kieran Verden, 19 Adam Thresher, 20 Rhys Davies, 21 Jordan Martin, 22 James Richardson, 23 Finn Murphy.
Tries: Austin Hay, Ed Rimmer, Will Partington, Ethan Hutt.
Conversions: Will Partington 4.
Penalties: Will Partington 2.