Premiership: Bath 18-20 Exeter Chiefs
|Bath (6) 18|
|Try: Banahan, Grant Con: Priestland Pens: Burns 2|
|Exeter (10) 20|
|Try: Hill, S Simmonds Con: J Simmonds 2 Pen: J Simmonds 2|
Joe Simmonds kicked a penalty five minutes from time to send Exeter 11 points clear at the top of the Premiership and deal a hammer blow to Bath's hopes of reaching the play-offs.
Champions Exeter looked to have put the game to bed with a second-half try from Sam Simmonds after Jonny Hill scored from close range in the first half.
Bath responded to take the lead with tries from Matt Banahan and Paul Grant.
But after losing possession, Exeter broke and forced the winning penalty.
It sealed Exeter's third consecutive Premiership victory - having lost their first three league matches of 2018 - and moved them closer to securing a home play-off semi-final.
The Chiefs took control of the game with two archetypal tries, with excellent ball retention and patient phase play close to the line before first Hill and then Sam Simmonds eventually burrowed over.
At 17-6 up, Exeter looked to have done enough for victory, only for Bath to turn the game on its head with two fine tries.
Freddie Burns spotted space inside the Exeter 22 on the right wing and sent a delicate chip for Banahan to gather and score before Burns' replacement, Rhys Priestland, sent fellow Welshman Taulupe Faletau through a hole and he put Grant over.
Bath had the lead and possession on half-way but lost the ball in midfield, allowing Don Armand to hack on and Exeter set up the decisive kick at goal.
Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder:
"I'm really proud of the effort the boys put in. It was a fantastic second-half fightback, and it just came down to one or two moments like a dropped ball here or there.
"There is no magic bullet or panic. Tonight proves we have to do the simple things well. If we perform like that, we will be in a position to win a game.
"We need to focus on our performance and get that right. They [Exeter] were impressive going forward, but we put them in those positions.
"I hope we can make the top four. We will possibly have to win the last four games, otherwise you are relying on other people's results. We are in a good position to do that."
Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter:
"At 17-6 up we had our kind of switch-off little period, and Bath got on the front foot and started to walk us back a bit.
"But stats-wise, I think we forced Bath to make probably twice as many tackles as us, and we've had guys with really high carry stats.
"I've said to the players that the key thing now is the character we are showing.
"The points are important, of course they are, because you want to be at the right end of the table, you want to be in the top four and try for a home semi-final.
"But you have got to make sure you are not crawling and scratching your way to it, you want to be seeing steps of progress, and I saw that today from us. We weren't going to give up, we refused to lie down."
Bath: Homer; Banahan, Joseph, Wilson, Brew; Burns, Fotuali'i; Obano, Charles, Thomas, Ewels, Stooke, Garvey (c), Ellis, Faletau.
Replacements: Dunn, Auterac, Knight, Phillips, Grant, Cook, Priestland, Vuna.
Exeter: Dollman; Whitten, Slade, Hill, Turner; Simmonds, White; Hepburn, Yeandle (c), Francis, Skinner, Hill, Ewers, Armand, Simmonds.
Replacements: Innard, Moon, Holmes, Lees, Dennis, Townsend, Steenson, Cordero.