Rugby Union

Ian Whitten went over for one of Exeter's tries.

Exeter keep pressure on Saracens with victory over Bath

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Exeter kept up the pressure on league leaders Saracens with a hard-fought 26-17 Aviva Premiership win over Bath at Sandy Park.

The hosts were 16-0 up and firmly in control but two tries from Bath number eight Amanaki Mafi, both converted by Tom Homer, who also added a penalty, saw the visitors rally strongly but a try three minutes from the end by replacement Kai Horstmann saw Chiefs to a deserved victory.

Ian Whitten had earlier scored an excellent try for the hosts with Gareth Steenson converting both tries and kicking four penalties as the Chiefs narrowed the gap at the top of the table to three points.

It was Bath's ninth defeat in 13 league games and they now find themselves 11 points behind eighth-placed Sale and now with virtually no chance of securing European Champions Cup rugby for next season.

Chiefs dominated the opening period and took the lead with a 12th-minute Steenson penalty and doubled the lead when Bath were penalised at a scrum..

Another penalty award at a scrum saw the Bath pack warned by the referee and Exeter extended their lead with a further penalty from Steenson but surprisingly another effort from him proved unsuccessful as his kick rebounded back off a post.

Exeter scored the opening try of the game five minutes before the break when James Short burst from his own 22 to beat Semesa Rokoduguni and race 80 metres before sending Whitten over with a well-timed pass.

Steenson converted but with the last play of the half, Mafi scored a try from a driving line-out, which Homer converted so Bath only trailed 16-7 despite being totally outplayed in a one-sided first half.

It proved to be a vital score as it gave Bath the impetus as they turned round to play with the elements in their favour and within two minutes of the restart, the game was turned on its' head when Mafi again crashed over from a driving line-out.

Homer converted with an excellent kick before Bath's momentum was stopped when Max Lahiff was yellow carded for another scrummaging offence but the Chiefs couldn't capitalise on the prop's absence.

Lahiff returned but it was Exeter who got the next score when Steenson kicked his fourth penalty with 15 minutes remaining but this was cancelled out by one from Homer before Horstmann's late effort ensured a home victory.

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