Exeter Chiefs 42 Bath Rugby 29
f you wanted a measure of just how far Exeter Chiefs have come in the past year, then this display from the reigning Aviva Premiership champions could not have painted a better picture.
Cast your mind back to October 2016 - the last time Exeter Chiefs played host to Bath - and it was the visitors who emerged from a titanic tussle victors thanks to a last-gasp score from Semesa Rokoduguni.
Fast forward to modern day and the difference between these two Westcountry rivals was like ‘Night & Day’. For an hour at least, everything Rob Baxter's side did was near perfection, producing a performance that had not only secured the bonus point by half time, but which ensured they remain top of the pile after ten rounds of battle.
Returning hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie set them on their way, before James Short, Mitch Lees and Don Armand all found their way over the whitewash before the break for scores, all of which were converted by master marksman Gareth Steenson.
All Bath could muster in the first period was a penalty from Freddie Burns. Such was the home side's dominance, it took until 38 minutes for the visitors to have their first meaningful venture into the Chiefs 22.
The Chiefs continued to hold the edge after the break adding further tries through Thomas Waldrom and Steenson, before Bath rallied - particularly late on - to claim a losing bonus point thanks to tries from Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson, Aled Brew and Matt Banahan.
It would prove the only off note on a day when the Chiefs were on song.
Ahead of kick-off, Baxter made five changes to the Exeter starting line-up from that which had defeated Saracens on their own artificial turf the week previous. Alec Hepburn, Cowan-Dickie and Williams formed a new-look front-row, Sam Skinner came into the engine room for Jonny Hill, while behind the solitary change saw Short brought in on the wing for Lachie Turner.
From the first blast of JP Doyle's whistle, it was the Chiefs who set the attacking tone.
For the full match report, go to: https://www.exeterchiefs.co.uk/news/chiefs-42-bath-29