Gareth Steenson’s missed conversion handed Gloucester Rugby a dramatic win at Sandy Park after a madcap second half that included three tries in three minutes.
The first half yielded just two Greig Laidlaw penalties but Jack Nowell and Matt Jess responded with two tries in breakneck fashion for Exeter Chiefs, before Tom Savage quickly dotted down himself.
Counterparts Ben Morgan and Thomas Waldrom then swapped tries but Steenson failed to add the extras to the latter.
The kick was to prove crucial as Laidlaw hit 11 points and Billy Twelvetrees scored a drop-goal, while Steenson could only notch ten from the tee.
Exeter were looking to stave off three Aviva Premiership Rugby defeats in a row and did not start in ideal fashion, conceding a penalty for going off their feet which Laidlaw promptly kicked over.
The hosts did receive the first sniff of the whitewash however as Jess knocked on the in-goal area – following Henry Slade’s deft grubber – after doing well to win the foot chase.
And Gloucester again kept the Chiefs at bay after Jonny May was cleared of impeding Jack Nowell by the TMO, as the winger chased down his own kick towards the try-line.
More pressure followed from the hosts and the Cherry & Whites stood form before collecting a penalty from an ominous-looking maul.
It was soon their turn to attack, looking the slicker with ball in hand, and Morgan – who signed a new contract with Gloucester this week – could have set May away if not for a knock-on.
Midway through the half more points arrived from the boot of Laidlaw after Moray Low’s indiscretion at scrumtime – and the scrum-half’s kicks from hand were also beginning to turn the screw.
He pinned the Chiefs’ back in their own 22 but they followed Gloucester’s lead by holding the fort, as Tom Palmer spilled the ball in a promising position.
And in the remaining ten minutes before the half-time whistle blew Exeter began to show the attacking verve that has ignited Aviva Premiership Rugby so far this season, Phil Dollman and Nowell typically at the crux of things.
However, the Chiefs’ best chance came to nothing after Mitch Lees lost a line-out deep into Gloucester territory.
Handling errors had peppered the first half and the game followed suit after the break, with Exeter enjoying the lion’s share of possession but none of the spoils.
Steenson did get a sighter at goal but made an uncharacteristic miss and Twelvetrees then showed off his own kicking prowess with a perfectly-weighted drop-goal from 45 metres out.
Then, following a neat show-and-go from Steenson, Nowell collected the ball and bulldozed his way through a series of tackles before diving over.
And in a matter of moments, Exeter were this time gifted the simplest tries after Twelvetrees threw a pass into thin air intended for Charlie Sharples.
It bounced for Jess who scooped up before cantering home – but the third try in three minutes was to come.
Savage charged down Steenson’s kick and avoided the attention of outstretched hands to score, with Laidlaw nailing the conversion to restore Gloucester’s lead.
The pace slowed down ever so slightly as Laidlaw and Steenson exchanged penalties, before the latter cashed in to edge Exeter ahead after they forced another three-pointer.
But Morgan rounded off a great week as he crashed over following a typical pick-and-go – a move sparked following a lung-busting piece of play by Matt Kvesic.
However the Chiefs’ own man-mountain No.8, Waldrom, picked up his ninth Aviva Premiership Rugby try of the season off the back of a maul following a check with the TMO.
Yet Steenson was denied his conversion when the kick dramatically bounced off the post and Gloucester defended their one-point lead heroically to secure a re-energising win.
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