Premiership: Exeter Chiefs 26-17 Bath
|Exeter (16) 26|
|Tries: Whitten, Horstmann Con: Steenson2 Pens: Steenson 4|
|Bath (7) 17|
|Tries: Mafi 2 Cons: Homer 2 Pen: Homer|
Exeter Chiefs cemented their position in second place in the Premiership with a narrow win over Bath.
Ian Whitten crossed after James Short's excellent deep break and three Gareth Steenson penalties put Exeter 16-0 up.
Bath responded on the stroke of half-time when Amanaki Mafi touched down at the back of a driving maul.
Japan number eight Mafi scored again as the visitors got to within two points but a late try from Kai Horstmann secured Chiefs' victory.
It takes Rob Baxter's side to within three points of leaders Saracens, who could only draw at Sale on Saturday.
In front of a sell-out crowd at Sandy Park, Irish fly-half Steenson, who also struck two penalty attempts against the post, passed 1,000 Premiership points with his personal haul of 16.
Chiefs forward Dave Ewers played an hour after 12 games out with a knee injury, in his first match since he was included in Eddie Jones' first England squad.
Last season's Premiership finalists Bath, who have now won just one of their last nine games, remain ninth and their top-six hopes look slim.
Exeter head coach Rob Baxter:
"It's nice to finally redress some of those losses as we've been on the end of some narrow defeats previously.
"We thoroughly deserved to win this one but those tries just either side of half-time did take the wind out of my sails.
"We had played very well to build up that 16-0 lead as Bath have one of the best defences in the league.
"It was frustrating as they kept trying to take tempo out of the game but the referee did work hard to try and keep the game flowing."
Bath assistant coach Toby Booth:
"We coaches just look at seven days ahead and seven days back and therefore London Irish next week is our focus, but we could do with registering something in the wins column.
"It's very disappointing that we've got absolutely nothing from this game as we have done extremely well to claw ourselves back into it after a slow start.
"Our set-piece wasn't good enough at the start so we couldn't get enough possession.
"Defeat was our own fault and I'm not blaming the referee but I didn't think we had the rub of the green in certain areas."
Exeter: Dollman; Woodburn, Whitten, Hill, Short; Steenson (capt), Lewis; Moon, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Atkins, Parling, Ewers, Armand, Waldrom.
Replacements: Yeandle, Hepburn, Brown, Stevenson, Horstmann, Chudley, Hooley, Bodilly.
Bath: Homer; Rokoduguni, Banahan, Eastmond, Agulla; Hastings, Cook; Lahiff, Batty, Thomas, Hooper (capt), Day, Houston, Louw, Mafi.
Replacements: Dunn, Auterac, Wilson, Ewels, Garvey, Mercer, Evans, Clark.
Referee: Greg Garner.