Horacio Agulla, Kyle Eastmond and Dave Attwood all scored tries as Bath Rugby beat Exeter Chiefs 31-14 in a pulsating encounter for their fifth straight Aviva Premiership Rugby win.
Agulla and Eastmond went over in response to Matt Jess’ breakaway try that gave the Chiefs the first lead of the match after 24 minutes with Attwood adding a decisive third from a driving maul after the break.
Exeter had responded through some sharp reflects and pace from Jack Nowell to start the second half but couldn’t find a way back after Attwood’s score and a penalty from George Ford.
The 21-year-old fly-half ended with 11 points, slotting a fourth successive conversion thanks to Anthony Watson’s late score that gave Bath the bonus point while Mitch Lees was in the bin.
With Ford pulling the strings, Bath threatened from the kick-off and thought they were ahead in the seventh minute when Matt Banahan finished nicely.
Attacking deep into the Exeter half, Ford combined with Eastmond and the cross-code convert laid off to an onrushing Banahan – although that final pass was deemed forward.
Bath’s adventure continued for the first 20 minutes with Ford in threatening form but he missed the first kick at goal after Exeter were caught offside following a Leroy Houston break.
His kick, from distance, sailed wide right and then Bath gifted Exeter the lead as a loose pass was seized upon allowing Jess to race away for the first try and Gareth Steenson to convert.
Ford’s pass at midway was loose and behind Dominic Day, who failed to collect, with Dean Mumm pouncing, holding off Agulla and then slipping a pass to his left for Jess to charge home.
Bath responded almost immediately in the 29th minute though, Agulla finishing from Eastmond after a sweeping move to the right and, in front of the posts, Ford made it 7-7.
And the hosts ended a pulsating first half by taking the lead that their adventure and drive deserved – Chris Cook the perpetrator as he cut inside after picking up from the ruck.
He split the Chiefs defence and found the onrushing Eastmond, who waltzed through from close range with Ford adding the extras to give Exeter a seven-point lead at half-time.
Exeter were level six minutes into the second half as another poor pass from Ford gave the Chiefs a break that saw Nowell sprint to touch down a kick from Sam Hill.
Ford’s pass hit an unaware Steenson on the back and was picked up by Hill, who kicked a grubber into the corner, with Nowell using his pace to beat Agulla for the score.
Steenson then slotted a fine conversion from the touchline to make it 14-14 but Exeter were level for just seven minutes as Bath scored a third try in stark contrast to their first two.
Bath stole a line out and then drove a scrum over the line, Attwood doing the final honours moments after coming on as a replacement and Ford converting again.
Ford extended Bath’s lead to ten with a penalty on the hour and then the hosts took control with another driving maul resulting in Lees being given a yellow card for the Chiefs.
With four minutes remaining Watson was picked out in space on the right by Ford and breezed home for the bonus point – Ford kicking the conversion for an 11-point haul for the day.
The win moved Bath top ahead of Northampton Saints’ clash with Harlequins at Twickenham.