Exeter produced a stunning performance to deservedly open their Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign with a 22-10 victory over Gloucester.
Fly-half Gareth Steenson was the hero with a match tally of 17 points, landing all his kicks. In comparison Nicky Robinson missed every kicking attempt for the visitors. Only James Simpson-Daniel showed any sort of form for Gloucester, who had no answer to the passion and commitment of Exeter.
A rapturous crowd at Sandy Park saw Exeter make a dream start to their top flight venture with a splendid try after only four minutes. A badly sliced clearance kick from Mike Tindall gave the Chiefs possession, allowing them to build up a period of pressure.
On entering the Gloucester 22 the home side skilfully moved the ball wide to create an easy try on the overlap for Mark Foster, which Steenson converted.
Gloucester hit back with a try of their own after 12 minutes. Tindall made amends for his earlier error with a trademark powerful run, brushing aside a few defenders and taking his side to underneath the home posts. From the resulting scrum Luke Narraway and David Lewis combined well to give Simpson-Daniel his chance to score in the corner. Robinson missed the kick.
Four minutes later Exeter extended their lead when Steenson expertly fired over a 40-metre angled penalty – but that lead should have been wiped out five minutes later. After some brilliant passing – with Simpson-Daniel prominent – Narraway crossed, only for the final pass to be ruled forward.
Gloucester's misfortune continued when a dejected Olly Morgan left the field with another injury – and soon after Robinson shaved the post with a penalty attempt. The Cherry and Whites were made to pay for their errors when they offended at a ruck, Steenson making no mistake with a penalty to give the home side a 13-5 lead with eight minutes of the first half remaining.
Moments later Robinson was presented with an opportunity to reduce the arrears with a straightforward 40-metre kick – but his attempt hit the post. In contrast, Steenson fired over a superb angled kick just before the interval to give his side a healthy advantage.
Four minutes after the restart Robinson had another penalty chance from 35 yards – but a fourth miss had the outside half shaking his head in disbelief. Despite this miss the visitors continued to dominate proceedings in the second half and one lovely run from centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu nearly brought them a deserved score.
After 54 minutes of the half sustained pressure told and Gloucester got their score when replacement Tim Taylor crossed after more good work from Simpson-Daniel. Robinson's conversion attempt hit the post. Two unforced errors from Gloucester gave Exeter a platform and once again Steenson showed the value of a goalkicker with another successful penalty.
The visitors had yet another chance when Lesley Vainikolo was put clear with 20 metres to go – but again a Gloucester pass was ruled forward. With 12 minutes to go Exeter produced their best attacking phase of the match, culminating in a simple drop goal from Steenson.
That left Gloucester with a mountain to climb – and the home side comfortably held on to their advantage.