Gareth Steenson passed the 1,000-point milestone for Exeter Chiefs as they narrowly defeated Bath Rugby to close the gap on Saracens at the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table.
With Saracens having been held to a 36-36 draw at Sale Sharks 24 hours earlier, Rob Baxter’s men led throughout against Bath thanks to the boot of Steenson.
But tries either side of the interval for the visitors made it a nervous finish for the home faithful, before Kai Horstmann crossed at the death to seal it.
A gale-force wind blowing around Sandy Park affected the fluidity in the early exchanges and the ability to clear lines under pressure.
Steenson was perhaps most affected and twice saw penalties swerve against the post in the first half but the No.10 was sharp off the tee, opening the scoring after 12 minutes after a scrum collapsed in front of the posts.
He doubled the advantage on 18 minutes and then bisected the uprights ten minutes later with a fine effort from 40 metres.
Five minutes before the interval came Exeter’s first try, and it was worth the wait.
The Chiefs worked the ball from right to left inside their own 22 and creating space for James Short to burst down the left. He glided past an attempted tackle from Tom Homer before offloading to Ian Whitten who finished in the corner. Steenson made no mistake with the conversion.
On the stroke of half-time though, Bath were back in the game.
Following a lineout at five metres, the maul drove for the line with Amanaki Mafi eventually the man to cross for his second try in three matches. Homer converted to leave Bath trailing 16-7 at half-time.
The home side were unable to regroup at the interval and Bath were firmly in the contest with another score from Mafi.
The visitors drove to the line from a lineout and again Mafi, at the back of the maul, touched down. Homer added the extras.
Bath’s momentum was halted on 48 minutes when Max Lahiff was sent to the sin bin for an infringement at the scrum, their 15th yellow card of the season.
Exeter got some respite when Steenson bisected the posts from 30m, Bath’s indiscipline in their own half a theme throughout the 80 minutes.
Bath were back within two as the game moved into the final ten minutes, Homer keeping his cool to slot through the posts from 22m.
With three minutes to play Exeter finally secured victory, beating Bath at their own game. They drove for the line after a lineout at five metres and Kai Horstmann was carried over.
Steenson added the extras to bring up 1,000 points for the club and seal only a second win for Exeter against Bath in their last 12 meetings.