Aviva Premiership: Bath bring home narrow win against Exeter
Last Updated: 15/02/14 6:10pm
George Ford: Kicked 12 points in Bath's victory over Exeter
George Ford gave his England credentials a boost as he inspired Bath to a 27-23 Aviva Premiership victory over Exeter at Sandy Park.
The fly-half kicked 12 points and showed excellent game control to give national head coach Stuart Lancaster a timely reminder ahead of next week's Six Nations clash with Ireland.
Ollie Devoto, Kyle Eastmond and Nick Abendanon ran in tries, while Ford's kicking put the decisive touches on a win which extended Bath's 36-year unbeaten run against Exeter.
Exeter, who scored tries through Ben White and Ian Whitten, led 13-10 at half-time but the visitors proved too strong after the interval.
It was a match that was briefly threatened by storms in Devon as winds of up to 80 miles per hour had caused the uprights in front of the south stand to snap, but the posts were repaired and replaced shortly before kick-off.
The Chiefs went into the game with clear intent and their pressure was rewarded after 10 minutes when Bath were penalised at the breakdown in front of the posts.
Fly-half Gareth Steenson slotted between the uprights but from the restart the Chiefs were penalised for going off their feet at the ruck and Ford's kick got Bath back on level terms.
Bath continued to be pinned back deep in their own half and only a knock-on five metres from the line denied the Chiefs an opening try. But it was the visitors who managed to get across the line first as a couple of missed tackles allowed outside centre Devoto to race in from 40 metres.
Ford added the conversion, only for Steenson to reply by kicking his second penalty from the 22-metre line to reduce the arrears, and in the final minute of the half White squeezed over the line from close range and Steenson converted for a 13-10 lead.
Bath's problems at the scrums continued into the second half as they were penalised for collapsing, enabling Steenson's kick to stretch the Chiefs' lead five minutes after the restart as unforced errors crept into the visitors' game.
It served as a wake-up call for Bath and they pushed the Chiefs back until Eastmond juggled the ball before breaking through to score the visitors' second try. Ford's conversion restored their lead.
Bath then began to take control as Abendanon chipped ahead and beat Haydn Thomas and Arscott to get his hands on the ball and dot down, with Ford converting from the left touchline.
Exeter were not prepared to lie down, however, and good work by Ben Moon in midfield set up centre Whitten for a Chiefs try.
Steenson converted to draw his side to within one point but Bath's Ford showed his prowess with a touchline penalty with the last play of the game, putting the gloss on the away side's win.
Fri 24th Apr
Bath43 - 18London Irish
Sat 25th Apr
Sale Sharks23 - 25Harlequins
Gloucester42 - 40Newcastle Falcons
Leicester Tigers38 - 17London Welsh
Northampton25 - 20Saracens
Sun 26th Apr
Wasps36 - 29Exeter
Fri 8th May
Harlequins0 - 0Bath
Sat 9th May
Sale Sharks0 - 0Newcastle Falcons
Gloucester0 - 0London Irish
Northampton0 - 0London Welsh
Wasps0 - 0Leicester Tigers
Sun 10th May
Saracens0 - 0Exeter
Sat 16th May
Bath0 - 0Gloucester
Exeter0 - 0Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers0 - 0Northampton
London Irish0 - 0Wasps
London Welsh0 - 0Saracens
Newcastle Falcons0 - 0Harlequins
Aviva Premiership 2013/14 Round 14
London Irish scrum-half Tomas O'Leary has been banned for three weeks following his red card against Wasps.
Leicester boss Richard Cockerill said his side "played poorly" as they scraped a home win over struggling Gloucester.
Leicester were forced to come from behind to snatch a hard-fought 11-8 Premiership win over Gloucester at Welford Road.
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- Mallinder upbeat after win
- O'Leary faces 'stamp' ban
- Richards hurt by Quins loss
- Northampton return to summit
- Irish win upset by O'Leary red
- Harlequins edge out Newcastle
- McCall: Stars showed class
- Hodgson boot saves Saracens
- Leicester v Gloucester: Teams
- Wasps v Irish: Teams
- Exeter v Bath: Teams
- Northampton v Worcester: Teams
- Harlequins v Newcastle: Teams
- Sale v Saracens: Teams