Today's match will be Chiefs' fifth successive Premiership semi at Sandy Park and they have yet to lose one. But Bath are in impressive form and will not bow down easily
Premiership semi-final Exeter v Bath live stream: How to watch from anywhere
Exeter Chiefs have come to regard Twickenham as a second home, reaching the past four Gallagher Premiership finals. That stat alone tells you everything about the magnitude of the task facing Bath in today’s semi-final at Sandy Park (4.30pm).
Already booked in for a Champions Cup final next weekend, Chiefs seem to have taken their ‘pick and jam’ game in the red zone to even greater heights this season. “I don’t think I’ve seen a better team in world rugby than Exeter when they get five yards out,” said Sam Warburton after their Euro semi-final defeat of Toulouse.
There’s a lot more to Chiefs than that, not least the explosive power and intelligent game management personified by the Simmonds brothers, but it is perhaps Exeter’s calling card.
And yet no team is closer in style to the Devon outfit than Bath, whose post-lockdown winning streak has been underpinned by set-piece solidity and the sort of short-range execution we’ve come to expect from their opponents this afternoon. Beno Obano’s try at Saracens last weekend is just the latest example.
Bath battled hard for a draw at Sarries but must eradicate the errors. They squandered two gilt-edged chances to go three scores up and the momentum shifted when Anthony Watson kicked out on the full in midfield. Conceding penalties in your own half, and thus the field position to set up lineout drives, is to invite a heap of trouble.
They qualified for today’s semi only after Sale forfeited their final fixture. That decision was made on Wednesday morning, causing disruption to both camps’ preparations. Bath trained at the start of the week for a match they knew might not take place. Exeter trained not knowing if it would be Sale, Bath or Bristol who rocked up at Sandy Park today.
Related content: Sale cancellation puts Bath into play-offs
Chiefs have used 57 different players since the league resumed in mid-August, but today’s side is virtually the same 23 that defeated Toulouse a fortnight ago.
Jack Nowell misses out with a foot injury, so Olly Woodburn deputises. Ollie Devoto, another former Bath player, replaces Ian Whitten at centre and up front Jacques Vermeulen returns to the fold in place of Sam Skinner, who drops to the bench. At stake is a place in the Twickenham final on 24 October.
“Our guys have looked good in training this week and I think we’re ready to go,” said Chiefs DoR Rob Baxter. “I often say to the players, nobody will win a competition like this again. In our case, we actually have the option of two competitions. I just hope and pray there won’t be a scenario where we play big semi-finals and finals behind closed doors again, nor do we have midweek games, back-to-back games, European games back-to-back, because it is tough.
“That said, our guys are coming through these experiences very well. If we have the three weeks we really want and need as a club, this will be something that lives with me for the rest of my life. And it will be something we’re all able to talk about with a lot of pride.”
Bath’s last major trophy was 12 years ago and this is their first Premiership semi-final for five years. They will be every bit as driven as their hosts. They carry with them the confidence of a long unbeaten away record, their last defeat on the road – a heavy one – coming at Sandy Park just before the season was suspended in March.
Back in the last years of amateurism, it was Bath who sat top of the pile and used to mop up in semi-finals and finals.
“All the players are hugely proud to be part of a club that has the heritage it does,” skipper Charlie Ewels told RW. “But we also want to write our own history. We want to be the Bath team of the Twenties, the 2020s means winning. Much as we’re proud of being part of a club with our heritage, that should motivate you to want to do it again.”
DID YOU KNOW? Bath have lost just 17 lineouts on their own throw in the Premiership this season – almost half as many as the next best team (Worcester, 32)
Bath make three changes from the side that trooped off the pitch at Allianz Park convinced they had blown their play-off chances. Joe Cokanasiga, recovered from a knee injury, makes his first start since England’s World Cup pool win against USA in September last year.
Cameron Redpath comes into midfield in place of Josh Matavesi, who is on the bench. And Tom Ellis wears the six shirt in place of Mike Williams, whose maul defence was a feature at Sarries before the pressure told in the final quarter.
When the sides last met in March, Exeter scored eight tries in a 57-20 mauling, Woodburn and Sam Simmonds each crossing twice. The referee was Luke Pearce, who takes the whistle again today. Bath did win 13-10 in round two, nearly a year ago now, and not many teams have done that against Chiefs this season. Watch highlights of the last meeting here.
Exeter: Stuart Hogg; Olly Woodburn, Henry Slade, Ollie Devoto, Tom O’Flaherty; Joe Simmonds (capt), Jack Maunder; Alec Hepburn, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Harry Williams, Jonny Gray, Jonny Hill, Dave Ewers, Jacques Vermeulen, Sam Simmonds.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Ian Whitten.
Bath: Anthony Watson; Ruaridh McConnochie, Jonathan Joseph, Cameron Redpath, Joe Cokanasiga; Rhys Priestland, Ben Spencer; Beno Obano, Tom Dunn, Will Stuart, Josh McNally, Charlie Ewels (capt), Tom Ellis, Sam Underhill, Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Lewis Boyce, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Miles Reid, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Josh Matavesi, 23 Tom de Glanville.
Here’s how to find a reliable live stream for Exeter v Bath wherever you are…
How to watch Exeter v Bath from outside your country
If you’re abroad but still want to watch your local Premiership coverage, like Exeter v Bath, you can do so by using a VPN – Virtual Private Network.
VPNs allow you to get around any geo-blocking by changing your IP address so you appear in a different location and can watch the same legal Premiership live stream you would at home.
Our friends at TechRadar have tested hundreds of VPN and recommend ExpressVPN, which is easy to use, has strong security features and allows you to watch on several devices at once, including smart TVs and phones, iPads, tablets, PCs and Macs.
Plus, ExpressVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can try it out for a month for free or sign up for an annual plan and get three months free.
Exeter v Bath live stream: How to watch from the UK
Exeter v Bath, which kicks off at 4.30pm today, will be shown live on BT Sport 1 and BT Sport Ultimate in the UK. If you don’t have a BT contract but want to watch the match, don’t worry because you can still easily watch it online.
That’s because BT Sport has a contract-free monthly pass that allows you to get instant access to all four of their sport channels for just £25.
That’s great value given they are showing every Premiership match played behind closed doors live and will also be covering this month’s European Champions and Challenge Cup finals. Plus, you can cancel at any time because there’s no contract.
If you’re from the UK but are overseas when Exeter v Bath takes place, you can get your normal live stream but you’ll need a VPN – see the information above.
Exeter v Bath live stream: How to watch from Europe
If you’re in Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, you can watch Exeter v Bath (kick-off 5.30pm) through the live and on-demand streaming service DAZN.
Exeter v Bath live stream: How to watch from the USA
If you live in the States, the official broadcaster of Premiership matches is NBC, with matches streamed on NBC Sports Gold so you can watch them anytime and anywhere.
Exeter v Bath will kick off at 11.30am EST and 8.30am on the West Coast.
The NBC Sports Gold Pass for rugby is $79.99 and includes coverage of the Gallagher Premiership, European Champions and Challenge Cups, and Guinness Six Nations.
Exeter v Bath live stream: How to watch from Australia
For those in Australia, Fox Sports have the rights to show Premiership matches and you can watch Exeter v Bath at 2.30am (AEST).
The Foxtel Sports HD bundle is $74 a month – and you get 50+ other channels as well as Foxtel GO so you can watch when on the move.
Exeter v Bath live stream: How to watch from New Zealand
It’s little wonder that Sky Sport NZ, with ten sports channels, including one dedicated to rugby, is the rights-holder for Premiership matches in New Zealand.
If you want to tune in to Exeter v Bath from the Land of the Long White Cloud, the match kicks off at 4.30am on Sky Sport NZ 1.
It costs $31.99 a month to add Sky Sport to your Sky Starter pack ($25.99), but if you sign up for 12 months before 31 January 2021 you’ll get your first month free. Plus, you’ll get Sky Go, which allows you to watch live rugby wherever you are.
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