Bath 19-17 Exeter: Bath edge Chiefs with late George Ford penalty
Bath overcome Exeter narrowly on opening day of the season
George Ford scores 14 points for Bath on his return from international duty (2 cons, 4 pens)
Hosts only try comes courtesy of Stuart Hooper late in the first half
James Short touches down for Chiefs with Gareth Steenson completing their scoring from the tee (4 pens)
England fly-half George Ford kicked 14 points to help inspire Bath to a dramatic 19-17 win over Exeter Chiefs, sealing the points in a tense opening day at the Rec with a late penalty.
An early try from debutant James Short plus two Gareth Steenson penalties put Exeter 11-10 up at the interval, Bath responding with a converted Stuart Hooper score, Ford adding two goals.
Ford and Steenson traded penalties after the break, but it was Ford who broke Chiefs hearts in the dying embers of the game.
In a good-natured first half scrap, Exeter broke the deadlock inside a minute, Short crossing out wide after an impressive length-of-the-field break straight from kick off.
After a couple of penalties from Ford and Steenson, Bath finally landed a significant response, Hooper getting on the end of a searing break with Ford and Anthony Watson setting up the Exeter-born Lock for an unopposed charge to the line on 39 minutes, Ford adding the extras to make it 10-8 with half-time approaching.
But the visitors managed to take an 11-10 lead into the break after a late penalty from Steenson, an offence which saw Matt Banahan sin-binned, suddenly swinging the momentum firmly in Exeter’s favour.
Ford and Steenson both kicked penalty goals after the interval as Bath led 16-14, but, crucially, Exeter substitute Henry Slade dropped the ball as he stretched to touch down soon after.
But they managed to retake the lead as Burgess saw yellow for foul play before Steenson edged the visitors ahead with the final quarter approaching.
Bath were under intense pressure to turn the tide, but they boosted their intensity in the closing stages and manful Exeter finally cracked on 78 minutes, conceding a penalty in dangerous territory, a grave error that Ford exploited, striking over a composed penalty to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Man of the Match
Bath: George Ford
An impressive performance from the England man, laying down a strong marker for the rest of the season with an inspirational effort at the Rec.