RUGBY: Ford vows to regroup after semi final loss

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Bath's Horacio Agulla trys to break clear.(Photo: Bob Ascott) Bath's Horacio Agulla trys to break clear.(Photo: Bob Ascott)

BATH head coach Mike Ford was not about to begrudge Exeter their victory as the Devon side booked their place in the LV= Cup final at their Sandy Park home next weekend.

The Devon side pulled off a 22-19 semi-final victory over Bath at the Recreation Ground, surviving a last-minute penalty by home fly-half Tom Heathcote which would have taken the tie into extra-time.

Full-back Luke Arscott scored two of Exeter's tries, Tongan wing Fetu'u Vainikolo a spectacular third from his own half and fly-half Henry Slade kicked two conversions and a penalty.

"We wish them good luck in the final. We'll now have a week off to regroup, to get over the knocks and bruises and also to get mentally fresh for what's coming in the rest of the season," said Ford.

"That team was good enough to win. There were a load of opportunities where we could have created pressure and scored more points but we weren't able to control the ball at crucial periods of the first half.

"Second half, they scored two individual tries which put them on the front foot. Again, we nearly found a way at the end to get a draw. We're not too despondent because we've still got a lot to play for this year in the Amlin Cup and obviously the Premiership, which is massive to us."

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter has told his players to enjoy the build-up over the next week to the biggest match in the club's history, against Northampton next Sunday.

Baxter said: "I'm not going to go around saying 'Oh, it's just another game guys.' We're going to prepare like it's a massive cup game - because that's what it is.

"We're going to enjoy the week and getting ready for it. It's fantastic for our guys to be playing in cup finals. We said right from the start when we got into the Premiership, if we survived and worked hard there would be big games down the line - and this is one of them."

He added: "We'll keep our feet on the ground, though. There weren't masses of celebrations among the players. They realise they have got a very tough game against a very good Northampton side.

"We've scored plenty of tries against Northampton before at Sandy Park and that's what we've got to look to do. It makes us true to ourselves when we go after games and look to score tries."

Bath stunned Exeter with a try inside 30 seconds from number eight Leroy Houston and Baxter admitted it had been a "sucker punch".

He said: "We took time to recover but gradually we worked our way back into the game. You could feel that when we turned up - to sunshine and a firm ground - the game was always going to be decided by great breaks. And it went our way today.

"In the end, we stayed composed enough to maximise a couple of opportunities. We gave away a fair bit of ball but we are a team that can score tries.

"The momentum shifted a few times. It started with Bath and their try and shifted to us with Fetu'u Vainikolo's try which came a bit out of nowhere."

MORE BATH RUGBY NEWS AT WILTSHIRETIMES.CO.UK/SPORT AND IN NEXT WEEK'S WILTSHIRE TIMES

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