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Plaudits for Semesa Rokoduguni as Bath wing pushes England claims

Published 30/10/2016

Semesa Rokoduguni was Bath's match winner at Exeter
Semesa Rokoduguni was Bath's match winner at Exeter

Semesa Rokoduguni was hailed as an "unbelievable talent" after he strengthened his England claims with a brilliant late try at Sandy Park.

The England international wing, who won his solitary Test cap against New Zealand two years ago, struck eight minutes into injury time as Bath claimed a dramatic 13-10 Aviva Premiership victory over west country rivals Exeter.

Rokoduguni produced a superb finish with the game's final move, brushing off attempted tackles from Gareth Steenson and Olly Woodburn to enhance his bid for England selection in their autumn series opener against South Africa at Twickenham on November 12.

The 29-year-old, who has scored five Premiership tries already this term, would appear to be in a straight fight for the right-wing berth with Marland Yarde to face South Africa.

And Rokoduguni's Bath colleague Dave Attwood praised the flying wing ahead of joining him on England's training camp in Portugal this week.

"He showed again today what he has been able to do for us all season," lock Attwood said.

"He's an unbelievable talent. He can kick, he can tackle and pretty much do everything. If I could pick one player to be, it would probably be him."

Bath and England fly-half George Ford converted and kicked two penalties - he missed two first-half penalties - as Bath prevailed.

Exeter have now gone five games without a win in all competitions, and a losing bonus point was scant consolation after lock Mitch Lees' try nine minutes from the end looked to have been enough, while Steenson kicked a penalty and conversion.

Bath rugby director Todd Blackadder said: "We kept our structure at the end, and George's pass to Roko was the sign of a great decision.

"When you need your big guys to step up, they stepped up and did the job.

"I thought George was outstanding today. You are always going to miss the odd kick, but he kept attacking the line and looking for work. It was a master-class from him.

"We are not getting carried away. We are just enjoying the battles every week.

"We are not the complete side by a long way, but we showed fantastic character. It was good gutsy stuff."

Exeter have not won in the league since they toppled struggling Bristol five weeks ago, and head coach Rob Baxter admits that a test of character lies ahead for last season's beaten Premiership finalists.

"I am disappointed and frustrated, but we can start to set ourselves some new challenges in a way," Baxter said.

"I don't mean we are going to give up on having a good season, but the challenges now are a little bit more like a test of character.

"When you have a tight game, there are lots of things you can do. One of the first things most people do is start looking for some kind of excuse.

"But what I want the players to do is be a little bit more accurate in everything we do. If every player makes one less error each over the next three games, you probably win three tight games. That is what we are going to talk about.

"We got a bit of a nice roll on last season. This is a different challenge, and it just feels like we need to start pushing things on."

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