Exeter pull plug on Bath

Mighty Bath were brought down to earth when Exeter triumphed 22-19 in their Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-final at the Rec.

While Bath may want to claim that this particular competition is low on their priorities, it did give them the chance to secure some silverware. But a double strike by Exeter shortly after half-time put them on the back foot and they were never able to break down a resolute defence.

Indeed, the scoreline is flattering, for Bath scored their try from the kick-off, when No 8 Leroy Houston benefited from some hard running from an uncontested kick-receive.

Gavin Henson, in one of his rare starts for the club, was yellow-carded in the 23rd minute for a professional foul at the tackle, which had significant consequences. From that penalty, Exeter took a lineout, sent the ball wide and Luke Arscott burst through for the try.

Bath relied on the boot of Tom Heathcote to forge ahead to a 13-8 lead at half-time, and the introduction of Bok flanker Francois Louw to the Bath pack five minutes after the break helped them tighten up the loose play. But they were undone by the midfield defence, when Arscott and Tonga's Fetu'u Vainikolo both burst through for touchdown.

On Saturday, the Northampton Saints demolished Saracens 26-7, thanks to a hat-trick of tries by Samoan centre George Pisi in the second half.

Exeter hold home advantage in the final on 16 March.

Bath – Try: Leroy Houston. Conversion: Tom Heathcote. Penalties: Heathcote (4).
Exeter – Tries: Luke Arscott (2), Fetu'u Vainikolo. Conversions: Arscott, Henry Slade. Penalty: Slade.

Bath – 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Gavin Henson, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Martin Roberts, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Nathan Catt.
Subs: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Mat Gilbert, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Ben Williams, 23 Matt Banahan.

Exeter Chiefs – 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Matt Jess, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Phil Dollman, 11 Tom James, 10 Henry Slade, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Ben White, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (c), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Chris Whitehead, 1 Ben Moon.
Subs: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Alex Brown, 19 James Hanks, 20 James Scaysbrook, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Fetu'u Vainikolo.

Photo: Steve Bardens/Getty Images