Exeter Chiefs reach fifth consecutive Premiership final after destroying Bath 36-5 at Sandy Park with Rob Baxter’s side set to face Wasps at Twickenham
- Bath moved to within a point of Exeter through two Rhys Priestland penalties
- Bath’s Joe Cokanasiga was ‘targeted’ by Exeter on his first start to the side
- The Chiefs have been runners up for the Premiership three of the last four years
Did you expect anything else to happen? Exeter Chiefs smashed their way into a fifth consecutive Premiership Final after beating up Bath.
By the end, after the Chiefs had had their way with them, Bath looked broken. Their newly fired-up pack had been blasted to bits by the big beastly boys in black.
Exeter have never lost one of these semi-finals – it is the finals they seem to lose – and through their typically teak-tough style scored five tries.
Exeter Chiefs will face Wasps in the Premiership final after cruising to victory against Bath
Jonny Hill took two, Luke-Cowan Dickie, Stuart Hogg and Ollie Devoto the others and Joe Simmonds kicked all his conversions to keep Exeter’s dream of a domestic and European double alive.
Pick, go, score, repeat. The Exeter plan is simple but, right now, looks impossible to stop.
Whatever you throw at them, do not let them anywhere near your 22. Bath did twice in the first half and, obviously, conceded twice.
There are two Exeter Chiefs sides. The one that gets them into position to execute the unstoppable surge, and the one that always finishes the job. The latter lot are probably the best at it in the world.
The Exeter Chiefs will be heading to Twickenham for a fifth successive Premiership final
We had all seen this film before, so when Bath had their early moments to shine, their forays into the Chiefs’ half, and their moments to savour you knew it would not last.
It happened here against Toulouse – a superior outfit to Bath – in the European semi-final too, as the Chiefs absorbed the early body shots and went on to land the knockout punches.
For a side that only found out they were playing this match on Wednesday afternoon – after Sale’s Worcester match had been cancelled due to their huge COVID outbreak – Bath did well early on.
The problem was that they did not score. You have to score, and score, and score again to beat this Exeter team.
Exeter’s Jo Simmonds (right) is tackled by Jonathon Joseph in the semi final at Sandy Park
For all their good work the Chiefs wall bricked up their try-line in the first half. Bath had 17 minutes of huffing and puffing trying to blow Exeter’s house down.
They almost did too, when Cameron Redpath fed Ruaridh McConnochie on the right and the England wing dived for the line, only to drop the ball before touching down.
That was their moment, and once it was snuffed out Exeter lit their own fires.
After Sam Underhill had taken down a lineout, Cowan-Dickie tapped and went in his now traditional fashion from a penalty to set the rumbling tanks in motion. Shortly Hill scored number one, and Simmonds converted.
Bath’s Ruaridh McConnochie (right) skips away from Luke Cowan-Dickie’s despairing tackle
Bath kicked two penalties – from Rhys Priestland – once when Beno Obano won a scrum and the other when Sam Simmonds did not roll away at a ruck to take them within one point.
But then the inevitable happened again. This time Cowan-Dickie scored under the posts after six smashes from his pack.
A set-back for Exeter came when Hill was yellow carded, though.
He hit Taulupe Faletau without arms at a ruck illegally and after Wayne Barnes, the TMO, had had a second look he agreed with referee Luke Pearce that the charge had not made contact with the Welsh No 8’s head or neck, so it was not a red.
Rhys Priestland’s (right) two penalties took Bath to within a point of the Exeter Chiefs
That might have been a way to stop Exeter’s black imperial march, but alas, when Hill returned five minutes into the second half Bath had not scored a point.
Ali Hepher, the head coach, shouted at his Chiefs ‘they’re breaking!’ at consistent intervals from up in the stands. You could sense Bath were.
Joe Cokanasiga on his first start looked spent and the Exeter coaches were sending messages down to their team to actively target him.
The next try, though, came on the other side. Joe Simmonds ghosted past Jonathan Joseph on the blind side and fed the on-rushing Hogg for try number three.
Joe Cokanasiga (left) was ‘targeted’ by Exeter Chiefs on his first start for Bath
Simmonds hit the wide conversion in off the post, as if to sum up the fact that everything was going Chiefs’ way.
Not absolutely everything, though. Jack Yeandle thought he had scored, having come off the bench, from a rolling maul, but it was seen to have been held up.
Not that it really mattered, as Hill then scored two minutes later from (you guessed it) close range, and Simmonds converted again.
Next the fly-half provided, making a break for it and then popping to Devoto as he was pulled down. The centre scored and the rout was complete.
The question now is whether Wasps can, like Saracens have three times before, stop a Chiefs coronation.
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