Jason Shoemark’s second-half double saw Exeter Chiefs make it two defeats on the spin for reigning Aviva Premiership champions Harlequins.
A see-sawing match was delicately poised midway through the second-half only for Shoemark to score two tries in three minutes for the victorious Chiefs.
Shoemark’s double was one of five scores from a rampant home side – Brett Sturgess, Ben White and Sireli Naqelevuki also crossing – who warmed up for next week’s trip to Leinster in style.
Harlequins had looked favourites for victory approaching the hour mark when Karl Dickson scored one of their three tries, Nick Evans and Ugo Monye also crossing.
However Shoemark’s quick-fire double ultimately settled the tie in the Chiefs’ favour, for whom fly-half Gareth Steenson kicked 17 points.
Exeter flew out of the blocks both in terms of intensity and the willingness to get the ball in hand and the home side drew first blood through the impressive Steenson.
The fly-half – in his first start of the season – kicked a penalty to make it 3-0 before Quins wasted a chance to get level.
Evans – on the back of a rare off-colour game against Saracens last time out – continued where he left off in missing from out wide.
However the Kiwi No. 10 couldn’t miss with his next penalty attempt. Chiefs prop Carl Rimmer was penalised for standing up in the scrum and with the three-pointer in front of the posts it was 3-3 after ten minutes.
The home side refused to be put off their attacking game however against the reigning Aviva Premiership champions and they made it 10-3 two minutes later.
Full-back Luke Arscott’s impressive break set up the move by putting Quins firmly on the back foot. Then after Chiefs had moved through the phases an overhead pass from Phil Dolman put the unlikely figure of loose-head prop Sturgess over in the corner.
Steenson added the impressive extras and a penalty to put the home side ten points to the good.
Evans kicked a penalty to reduce the arrears before the former All Black wrestled back the momentum in the battle of the fly-halves.
The previously buoyant Steenson saw his clearance kick charged down by his opposite number who promptly picked himself up to dot down.
Evans missed the conversion to leave the scores at 13-11. England full-back Mike Brown was the Quins hero just after the half-hour mark, a tap tackle foiling Chiefs flanker Tom Johnson who looked set to cross.
Steenson made it four successful kicks from four to bounce back from the disappointment of Evans’ charge-down try with a penalty on 36 minutes.
However it was the visitors who had the last laugh in the half when, despite seemingly having wasted the overlap, Monye crossed for his fourth try of the season.
Evans added the conversion to send Quins into the interval 18-16 to the good however the home side wrestled the lead back early in the second-half when back-rower White crossed for his second try in as many weeks, Steenson converting.
Rory Clegg replaced Evans shortly afterwards and he wasted a golden chance to reduce the deficit on 54 minutes – firing a penalty attempt wide.
However he couldn’t miss with his next attempt – a conversion from in front of the posts – after he had intercepted Matt Jess’ pass and scrum-half Dickson went over.
The match swung back in Exeter’s favour when Dolman made the crucial break before offloading to Shoemark who crossed, Steenson missing the conversion to leave the score at 28-25.
And the Kiwi centre added a second minutes later. Steenson pounced on a Quins error to release Shoemark who gave his fly-half the easiest of conversions.
A penalty from Clegg reduced the deficit but a converted Naqelevuki score settled it late on.