Bath 23 Exeter Chiefs 15: match report
Former England centre Dan Hipkiss will be relieved that his moment of madness did not prevent Bath from preserving their 34 year unbeaten record their South West rivals.
Hipkiss was sent off after 73 minutes while he was in the sin bin after he prevented Exeter’s Phil Dollman from gathering Stephen Donald’s kick by leaving his seat and palming the ball into the crowd.
It was Hipkiss’s second yellow card offence in six minutes and left referee Wayne Barnes with no option but to issue an automatic red card.
It also forced Bath to play the last seven minutes of a frenetic encounter with 14 men but Exeter could not capitalise. Their attempts to batter Bath into submission were resisted and Stephen Donald sealed the win with a nerveless penalty a minute from time.
Exeter could not salvage a losing bonus point from an error-riddled performance as Ignacio Mieres hooked an injury-time penalty and they never really recovered from conceding to tries in the first 14 minutes when Bath, inspired by the elusive Nick Abendanon and the direct approach of Francois Louw, were dominant.
Bath sweating over injuries suffered by Davey Wilson and Francois Louw
Bath head coach Gary Gold was delighted to see his side hold on for a 23-15 victory over Exeter at the Rec.
The hosts led 15-5 at half time but were forced to withstand a tremendous second-half fightback from the Chiefs, who failed to even pick up a losing bonus point for their efforts due to a late missed penalty.
Tries from Ben Williams, Kyle Eastmond, who both crossed before the break, and Francois Louw proved enough for Bath, even though they had Dan Hipkiss red-carded with seven minutes to play in a see-saw contest.
"I'm very proud of the character we showed but not so much of certain aspects of the way we played in the second half, such as the penalty count," Gold said.
"We'll take that win against a team of that quality though. We've got massive respect for Exeter. They're one of the toughest opponents we've played this season."