EURL 24–6 Bath Uni RL
Exeter’s Rugby League 1st XIII ended their wait for a first win of the season with a dominant second half display over Bath.
Exeter, the reigning Premier South League Champions, looked as if they were heading for a third successive defeat as Bath battled to a half-time lead.
But despite a yellow card for the influential Andy Cronin, Exeter snatched the lead back through Sam Spridell and ultimately eased to victory as the Bath challenge fizzled out.
Second quarter woes trouble Exeter
Exeter had made a poor start to the season, losing both of their first two games. Their collapses in both second quarters against Gloucester and St. Mary’s, followed by heavy defeats, left them in a must win situation.
And it looked as if they would be hampered by another poor second quarter. Leading 4-0 after Matt McFarland’s score, Exeter should have been well clear when Bath broke through the middle to level the scores, before the successful conversion gave them the lead.
In spite of the deficit though, Exeter had laid the foundations with line breaks from James Ashford and captain Ben Weaver and excellent carries from Winston Murin and Tom Braund accompanied by much improved build up play and defence wearing Bath down.
Nevertheless, the green and white’s raucous crowd and control of possession wasn’t enough to see them lead as Bath held out to the half-time break. Ill-discipline, both offensively through failure to complete sets of tackles, and defensively through needless penalties, allowed Bath to be effective in both areas of the game.
It meant that in just three second quarters this season, amounting to an hour of rugby, Exeter have an aggregate score of 50-0 in the opposition’s favour.
Champions finally come to the party
The second half continued in much the same vain as the first, penalties allowing Bath to play the rugby, and now they were growing in confidence. But Cronin’s yellow card, had the opposite effect of what was expected as Exeter finally found their feet.
Piling on the pressure in attack, with repeated sets keeping Bath stuck in their half, Exeter were growing in confidence as the away side began to tire. The breakthrough came after excellent hands from Braund as Finbar O’regan’s well placed kick allowed Spridell to dot down.
He was wide with that kick, but successful when called upon just a few minutes later after sustained build up play gave Exeter their second try in the yellow card period. It was finished by a superb line from Billy Franklin, and gave Exeter a much needed cushion.
With Exeter now back to a full compliment and a rapidly fading Bath losing any line speed they had in the first half, the green and white were playing the best rugby they had all season, the forwards carrying effectively before allowing the backs to take command with slick hands.
Spridell soon had his second as he capitalised on space out wide after excellent forward carries before dotting down under the posts to give himself an easy conversion. With the win now assured, Isaac Lea went over in the right hand side to seal a comprehensive and vital win.
Exeter Lineup: Ashford, Guest, Cronin, Gill, McFarland, O’regan, Spriddell, Braund, Moore, Corbett, Lea, Weaver, Franklin Subs: Powell, Murin, Speak, Waring