Bath Rugby v Exeter Chiefs Preview

Bath won 12-9 when the two clubs met at Sandy Park in February, whilst this is Exeter’s first visit to the Rec for a competitive match.

Bath Rugby have slipped to three straight defeats in Aviva Premiership Rugby, but have not lost four in succession in the competition since season 2006/07.

Exeter Chiefs’ only win in their last four matches was 30-9 over Northampton at Sandy Park in round 17. Mathematically the Chiefs need just one more league point to be safe from relegation this campaign.

Bath Director of Rugby, Sir Ian McGeechan, knows that performing more accurately in certain areas holds the key to Bath getting back to winning ways in the first Premiership South West derby played between the two sides at the Recreation Ground.

“The last couple of games we have put our hands up and admitted we have been far too careless with possession. You can have all the tactics and plans in the world, but if you are not able to keep hold of the ball, then they are useless. “

“We showed we can penetrate very well, as we did against Leicester, we just need to make sure we don’t lose the ball in the contact and keep it safe.”

“Exeter are a well-coached side, know what they are doing and are very efficient at it. If we want to really threaten them, we need to be just as efficient. ”

“We showed down in Exeter our ability to counter their physicality at the contact areas, and that is something we must do. “

“Maintaining possession is key, because if you don’t hold on to the ball, you don’t penetrate, and if you are not good at breakdowns you won’t keep possession. ”

“We have been working hard on these areas though, and are keen to right the wrongs of the last few weeks, and get ourselves back on course for reaching the play-offs.”

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter was less than impressed by the way his side went down 27-22 to the Aviva Premiership’s basement club and promised to use this week as the ideal opportunity to address some of the issues which have crept into his team in the past fortnight.

True to his word, Exeter’s leader has sat down both individually and collectively with his players and talked over those specific areas – Baxter now expects a response against a Bath outfit who narrowly edged the corresponding fixture in February 12-9.

“If there’s one thing we did wrong as a group, it was that we got a bit carried away with what a win would have given us,” Baxter said of last week.

“All week people were saying: ‘If Exeter win they’re mathematically safe, the season then has been a success’.

“For the first time we got too forward-thinking in what the result would bring, rather than concentrating on the bits and pieces that would bring the result.

“One of our biggest strengths all season has been that all we have talked about is going to clubs to play well, and if we do that we’re happy. That’s led to us winning some games and getting losing bonus points from others, but we were focused on working on our performance. We’ve refocused on that this week.

“We know Bath is a big local derby and we’re going to go up there and look to perform as best we can. If that gives us a piece of the game, fantastic. If not, so long as we’ve given it a good go, we’ll be happy.”

Although the Chiefs head into this Westcountry tussle on the back of defeats against London Irish and Leeds Carnegie, Bath themselves are also on a losing streak of their own having slipped to successive defeats against Gloucester, Leicester Tigers and, more recently, Saracens.

That sequence of results has meant Bath are now hanging on by their fingernails to the hopes of reaching the end-of-season play-offs. For that to happen they are well aware they will have to do the double over the Chiefs and Baxter hopes the pressure that brings will work in Exeter’s favour.

“We’ve got to play on that very much – we’ve got to sa

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