Director of rugby Rob Baxter believes Exeter Chiefs passed a test of character with their victory at Worcester Warriors.
Despite tries from James Short and Ian Whitten the scores were level at half-time, with Tom Heathcote and the Warriors profiting from the Chiefs’ ill-discipline.
But the penalty count subsided in the second period while the Chiefs grew in confidence and further scores from Thomas Waldrom and Don Armand secured a bonus point.
Exeter are now two points behind Aviva Premiership Rugby pace-setters Saracens with the top two set to do battle at Sandy Park next Sunday.
And Baxter feels the win at Worcester sets them up nicely.
He said: “It was another very good test of character. If you come to Worcester and you don’t play flat out, you want to be error-ridden and lack a little bit of discipline you are going to make it very difficult for yourself and that was what we did.
“I have watched a lot Worcester and they are a very solid side in what they do, and they gave that to us.
"Although we created good moments in the first half with two good tries we almost played like that was going to happen quite a lot, and it doesn’t. You create those moments, but most of the time you have to work very hard. And if you don’t then you end up giving away penalties and the scoreboard ticks over as it did for Worcester.
“But credit to the players, they dealt with most of those issues at half-time and grew from half-time onwards. The bench did great for us.
“Coming away with a bonus point with the results this weekend has been fantastic for us and it means we can head into Saracens next week on the front foot.”
Worcester Warriors are four points clear of London Irish at the foot of the table with Newcastle Falcons sandwiched between them after Andy Goode inspired only their second Aviva Premiership Rugby victory of the season.
But Warriors head coach Dean Ryan was content with his team’s performance and not worried about the challenge of avoiding relegation.
“That’s a good side. They see things quicker than we do and that’s the challenge for us: to get up to that speed,” he said.
“I was proud of the guys. We worked hard and it was a good contest, but in the end the weight of pressure was too much for us and we were chasing a little bit, trying to get scores and making silly mistakes.
“But this is about ten weeks, not whether we knock over Exeter. It’s about who we are going to go over the next ten weeks, so I’ve said straight away to the boys ‘let’s get ready to roll’ because we have it coming week in, week out now. And if we can play at that level, and challenge ourselves to see things that little bit quicker then we are travelling alright.”
Worcester: Pennell, Heem, Oliver, Mills (Symons 70), Vuna, Heathcote, Baldwin (Mulchrone 71); Leleimalefaga (Bower 70), Annett, Schonert (Johnston 55), O’Callaghan, Cavubati, Dowson, Mama (Cox 63), Van Velze.
Not used: Sowery, Sanderson, Hammond.
Exeter: Dollman, Woodburn, Campagnaro (S Hill 55), Whitten, Short, Steenson (Hooley 75), Chudley (Lewis 64); Hepburn (Moon 45), Cowan-Dickie (Taione 55), Francis (Low 70), J Hill (Atkins 55), Parling, Armand, Salvi (Horstmann 70), Waldrom.
Penalties: Heathcote 5
Tries: Short, Whitten, Waldrom, Armand
Conversions: Steenson 2
Penalties: Steenson 2
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys