Round Two for Bath and Exeter in Anglo-Welsh Cup Final

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BATH, ENGLAND - MARCH 23: Nic White of Exeter Chiefs box kicks during the Aviva Premiership match between Bath Rugby and Exeter Chiefs at Recreation Ground on March 23, 2018 in Bath, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

It is take two of the Anglo-Welsh Cup Final, and take two of Bath Rugby vs Exeter Chiefs. Originally scheduled for the 18th March but postponed due to snow, these two West Country sides will finally compete for the first silverware of the season.

Last Time Out: Bath 18 Exeter Chiefs 20

Of course these two met only last Friday in the Aviva Premiership, with Exeter coming out on top in a gritty encounter at The Rec. Just like in the semi final, it was a Joe Simmonds penalty that decided that game in the final few minutes.

Surely the youngster will get the chance to continue in the number ten shirt at Kingsholm, as Rob Baxter plans Gareth Steenson’s succession.

It will be interesting to see how similar the line-ups are from the Premiership match, given that both clubs had expected to have this weekend off. Bath have some chronic injury problems, particularly at tighthead where they only have Shaun Knight fit. The Gloucester-born prop is almost certain to start at his hometown ground.

Todd Blackadder will also feel the affect of the Six Nations, losing Sam Underhill and Anthony Watson, and needing to rest first-string players Jonathan Joseph and Taulupe Faletau. The Anglo Welsh Cup (AWC) certainly has benefits, but it can also tests squad depth.

Exeter on the other hand, have perhaps slightly more breathing space to focus on this game [given they have an eight point lead at the top of the Premiership]. In a wise decision by management, they have allowed skills coach Ricky Pellow to lead the management of their younger cup side; in place of DoR Rob Baxter.

This surely allows for new ideas and tactics to develop, and for the management to see a fuller range of their players’ talents. In other words, the ‘perfect use of this tournament’ in many commentators eyes.

AWC Breakthrough Player: Adam Radwan

The Anglo-Welsh Cup is positioned as the birthplace of rugby stars, with the Breakthrough Player Award a significant feature of the tournament. However it has been a year where some sides have fielded strong senior sides, with Gloucester and Northampton Saints particular offenders.

One youngster who was able to shine though was Newcastle Falcons’ wing Adam Radwan. He scored two tries in the first two rounds and his performances led to the award of the Breakthrough Player 2018. He follows an illustrious list of former winners and he will hope to follow their trajectory to international honours.

A great vindication for a player released by Newcastle’s junior academy a couple of years ago.

Anglo-Welsh Cup Final this Friday

Bath and Exeter Chiefs will compete for the Anglo-Welsh Cup, at Kingsholm in Gloucester on Friday, 2.30pm. It looks like there will be a strong crowd, now the match has landed on the Good Friday holiday. Tickets for both seated stands are close to selling out in most areas.

There should be good travelling contingents from both clubs too, and the tight result last week will surely add to the rivalry as well.

Exeter will be desperate to avoid a hat-trick of Anglo-Welsh cup final defeats, whilst a Bath win would give them huge confidence as their club looks to secure a top six finish in the Premiership.

Of course all form goes out of the window in a cup final and simply ‘whoever wants it more on the day’ will surely be triumphant.

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