Terrific Team Bath run in five tries to beat South West rivals Exeter for first time in BUCS Super Rugby
Team Bath produced an excellent all-round performance to record their first BUCS Super Rugby victory over South West rivals Exeter in an entertaining derby at the University of Bath Sports Training Village.
The Blue & Gold, sponsored by Fulkers and MJ Church, got off to a storming start as Hugo Stiles, who kicked both conversions, and fellow winger Finn Murphy ran in tries inside the opening ten minutes.
Exeter, who started the day second in the table, fought back strongly to draw level through tries from Matt Blee and Richard Capstick, Isaac Hydleman kicking the two conversions, but Team Bath finished the first half on a high as prop Austin Hay burrowed over, with Stiles adding the extras, and Will Partington ran from his own 22 to secure the bonus point in style.
A Stiles penalty increased Team Bath’s lead to 29-14 before a Jack Rouse try, converted by Hydleman, cut the gap once more. The hosts were down to 14 men at this point but defended superbly and, moments after being restored to full strength, put the game out of reach as England U20 hooker Beck Cutting crashed over.
Luc-Pierre Riou pulled a try back for Exeter and a Hydleman penalty with the last kick of the game cut the final score to 36-31, earning the visitors two bonus points, but it could not detract from a superb victory for Team Bath – their third in a row.
Captain Tom Doughty said: “I am so immensely proud of the boys. This is my fourth year here and the first time we have beaten Exeter. We’ve taken the momentum from the last two games and just performed so incredibly well tonight.”
Backs coach Louis Messer added: “To go up against one of the big guns in the league and play like that shows that we are a team to be heard about.
“I thought it was an exciting game and there was some lovely rugby on display from both teams.”
Following their victories over Nottingham Trent and Leeds Beckett, Team Bath went into the game with confidence high and took just 80 seconds to get their noses in front.
An incisive run by Jack Kenningham got them on the front foot and when the ball was spread wide, Stiles – fresh from his winning penalty against Leeds Beckett at The Rec last week – cut in from the wing to touch down before adding the extras.
The hosts were playing some brilliant rugby and doubled their lead in the ninth minute following a fantastic break down the left flank by Partington. The ball was moved back infield to Kenningham, who produced another fine line to draw the defender and create space for winger Murphy to touch down in the corner. Stiles again added the extras.
Exeter are one of the strongest outfits in the league and responded by forcing a series of scrums on the Team Bath line. Prop Tom Rowland was sin-binned before the ball was finally spun wide and Blee touched down.
Hydleman added the conversion and did so again in the 32nd minute as, with Team Bath still down to 14 men, Capstick bundled over after extensive Exeter pressure.
Team Bath regrouped and restored their lead when prop Hay – on as a replacement for Kieran Verden – burrowed over the line and Stiles added the extras.
There was still time for another try before the break and it came in stunning style as full-back Partington, from deep inside his own half, sliced through the Exeter defence before picking himself up after being tackled to touch down.
A Stiles penalty increased their lead to 29-14 in the 50th minute but Exeter again responded well and when Chris Barry was penalised in front of the posts and sin-binned, Rouse peeled off the back of the resulting scrum to touch down.
Hydleman added the extras but Exeter couldn’t cut the gap any further as Team Bath dug deep to hold the visitors at bay until they were back to full strength.
They then capitalised on an Exeter mistake as an overthrow at a lineout was collected by replacement hooker Cutting, who managed to force his way over the line.
Stiles’ conversion took the game away from Exeter but they kept battling and grabbed a fourth try through Rio, which Harry Bazalgette converted.
The game ended in bizarre fashion when Team Bath put the ball out of play thinking that time was up, only for the referee to disagree. The hosts were penalised from the resulting scrum and Hydleman took the kick to secure a second bonus point for Exeter.
Team Bath are on their travels next Wednesday (October 31, 3.30pm) as they visit Nottingham Trent, a team they narrowly beat 41-36 at the Sports Training Village earlier this month.
The next home game is against Cardiff Met on Wednesday, November 14. Kick-off is 6.30pm and entry is free.
Team Bath starting XV: 15 Will Partington, 14 Finn Murphy, 13 Will Hughes, 12 Alex Nisbett, 11 Hugo Stiles, 10 Alex Burrage, 9 Ed Rimmer; 1 Tom Rowland, 2 Tom Doughty (c), 3 Kieran Verden, 4 Kas Eelman, 5 Jordan Martin, 6 Jack Kenningham, 7 Chris Barry, 8 James Catlin. Replacements: 16 Beck Cutting, 17 George Cave, 18 Austin Hay, 19 James Hadfield, 20 Josh Lilly, 21 George Wootton, 22 Miles Gilbert, 23 Brandon Bellamin.
Tries: Stiles, Murphy, Hay, Partington, Cutting.
Conversions: Stiles 4.
Exeter University starting XV: 15 Sal M’Boge, 14 Charlie Davies, 13 George Chatterton, 12 Carl Morgan, 11 Matt Blee, 10 Isaac Hydleman, 9 Pierre Thompson; 1 Josh Pieterse, 2 George Gosling (c), 3 Joe Salkeld, 4 Charlie Morgan, 5 Lasha Jainai, 6 Richard Capstick, 7 Luc-Pierre Riou, 8 Jack Rouse. Replacements: 16 Rauf Briler, 17 Harrison Fowke, 18 Matt Johnson, 19 Paul Schroter, 20 Harvey Rhyder, 21 Ed Houchin, 22 Harry Bazalgette, 23 Will Hollis.
Tries: Blee, Capstick, Rouse, Riou.
Conversions: Hydleman 3, Bazalgette.
Referee: Dan Parrott.
Assistant referees: Astie Bolton, Oli Carey.
Fourth official: Brad Bignell.