LV= Cup: Bath too strong for Exeter in West Country derby
Bath moved clear at the top of LV= Cup Pool 3 after securing a 37-15 win over Exeter in their West Country derby.
Last Updated: 17/11/13 5:26pm
The Chiefs never recovered from conceding two tries within the opening three minutes as Bath cruised to a bonus-point victory which puts them four clear of second-placed Worcester.
Matt Banahan and Matt Garvey crossed for the early scores before Martin Roberts and Charlie Beech touched down to complete the success.
Exeter scored two tries in the second half through James Phillips and Greg Bateman, but the visitors never threatened to overturn the deficit.
The hosts were out of the gates quickly and made a dream start, going ahead with just over a minute gone as the ball was quickly spun out to the left, where Anthony Watson played in Banahan.
George Ford added the extras and Bath were soon 14-0 in front as Banahan broke free out wide before offloading to flanker Garvey, who powered over the line for another converted score.
Exeter got on the board through a Henry Slade penalty, but even though the Chiefs were enjoying the majority of possession, they could not reduce their disadvantage any further as the contest passed the half-hour mark.
Instead it was Bath who struck a hammer blow, scrum-half Roberts picking the ball up from a ruck and dummying over the line for an opportunistic try, which was converted by Ford.
Ford's first penalty made it 24-3 at half-time and the 20-year-old prospect added another three points after the restart to extend his side's comfortable advantage.
Exeter finally made a breakthrough with 20 minutes remaining as No 8 Phillips found a hole in the Bath defence to dive over from close range, with Slade badly scuffing his conversion attempt.
But Bath stood firm and eventually responded by scoring their fourth try, Beech picking up and burrowing over after a driving maul had been brought down just short of the try-line.
Exeter continued to press for another consolation score and were rewarded in the closing stages when Greg Bateman grounded the ball beneath a heap of bodies after Luke Arscott had been stopped short.
Ceri Sweeney converted but it was Bath who had the last word as Tom Heathcote sent over a last-minute penalty.