Bath launched a late fightback to pick up their sixth win of the Premiership season as they saw off Exeter Chiefs 13-10 at Sandy Park on Sunday.
Mitch Lees’ try midway through the second half looked like it had given Exeter victory, until Semesa Rokoduguni stole the points eight minutes after the 80 minute mark, sealing an exhilarating Bath victory.
Hunting victory after a four-game winless spell, Exeter returned to Premiership action following the narrow defeat to Ulster last weekend. Chiefs have failed to reach the heights of last season, but started the strongly at Sandy Park, encouraged by an electric atmosphere.
Though Bath were doing most of the attacking, Exeter were showing a resolute defensive side to their game, with the visitor’s options severely limited.
Bath could have taken the lead through George Ford, but he saw his penalty from 30m miss the posts, with Gareth Steenson kicking Exeter into a three-point lead on 16 minutes. Ford wasn’t having a good first 20, and he saw another kick sail wide of the sticks in a low scoring opening.
Somehow, the visitors didn’t manage to get themselves a first half try, but that can be put down to some incredible defensive efforts from Chiefs.
Having spent at least five minutes warning off the danger, the hosts were able to win themselves a penalty, the determination recognised by all in attendance.
Exeter started the second half slowly and were lucky to only concede an early three points, with Ford levelling the scores three minutes into the second half. Bath were well on top in the first 10, but again found themselves unable to make the most of the dominance they had in the middle of the park.
Henry Slade missed the chance to restore the hosts’ lead, and Ford kicked Bath ahead for the first time with 15 to go. But it was a far more open game than in the first half, and Exeter were finally able to open the try scoring with 10 minutes left.
After winning a line-out, Chiefs pushed a maul forward and Lees was able to ground the ball, with the TMO confirming. Steenson added the extras, with Exeter moving four points in front.
The Chiefs skipper could have made it a seven point lead, but a penalty from distance flew wide, meaning Bath still had a chance at victory. They threw everything at it in the final stages, with an extra eight minutes played as Exeter desperately held up metres from their own line.
But Rokoduguni had the final say, breaking Exeter hearts well after the 80 minute mark. He found enough space to dart down the right hand side and go over, claiming a dramatic victory for Bath and continuing Exeter’s miserable run of form.
It also marks the second game on the spin where they have seen victory turn into defeat in the final moments.