Our new rugby contributor gives his verdict on Saturday’s New Year’s Eve clash between Bath and Exeter.
Third-placed Bath will be looking to put more space between themselves and the fourth-placed Exeter Chiefs on the Aviva Premiership log, when they host them at the Recreation Ground on Saturday
Bath Rugby v Exeter Chiefs | Saturday 31 December | The Recreation Ground | 17:00
To Win (80 mins)
Bath Rugby 6/10 | Draw 20/1 | Exeter Chiefs 27/20
Bath, coming off of the back of a 40-26 away defeat to Wasps on the 24th of this month, will be looking to put some consistency back into their game again after winning just 3 of their last 6 games in all competitions, starting with their next encounter against an in-form Exeter side at the Rec. Head coach Tabai Matson is confident of naming an unchanged starting lineup, despite Welsh no. 8 Taulupe Faletau having tweaked his left knee in their game at Wasps. Matson is quoted as saying that the injury was not too serious. “He hasn’t trained yet, but he got through all the bits he needed to get through, so I’m really hopeful that by Thursday pretty much everybody will be available.”
Meanwhile, Exeter will be looking to avenge their 13-10 defeat to Bath on 30th October by one-upping them this time round. Coach Rob Baxter’s side has gone down just once in their last 6 games in all competitions, while their 31-10 defeat of Leicester five days ago inspired a lot of confidence that this current Chiefs team could possibly go the distance this season, after finishing as runners-up to Saracens in 2015/16.
Verdict: Bath 6/10
Although inconsistent of late, back Bath to come out on top. Playing at home, and hurting after their most recent defeat to Wasps, the Bath boys should be too powerful for Exeter and record their second win over them this season.