Despite a strong second-half showing from Bath United, it was Exeter Braves who came out on top in the Premiership Rugby Shield clash with a 50-35 victory at Sandy Park.
Both sides were unable take advantage of a few openings inside the opening 10 minutes of the game, with Ruaridh McConnochie coming closest, with the winger stopped just short of the Exeter line.
It was Braves who dominated the early possession, and it was a fortuitous loose pass gathered by full-back Max Bodilly that ended the stalemate. The 24 year-old shipped the pass to Italian international Michele Campagnaro who had the pace to finish beneath the posts.
Soon after Braves had their second with a fluid move opening, which sent Jack Innard through on the right wing. The front rower linked up well with his fellow forward Wilhelm van der Sluys, who gave the Braves a 12-0 lead.
United responded with some flare of their own, as Darren Atkins punching holes in the Braves defence. Unfortunately for United, it was the the powerful Exeter front row, which caused the visitors problems.
It was an overturned United scrum that set-up Braves third try in the 27th minute. Tom Lawday snatched the ball from the back of the set-piece, and a flick from Jack Maunder gave O’Flaherty a simple finish, despite the best efforts of Levi Davis.
Braves counter attack proved destructive near the end of the first half, with the home side adding a further two tries before the interval. First Dave Dennis bundled over, before returning England international Jack Nowell set Campagnaro through on the outside channel for his second of the game.
Half-time - Exeter Braves 31-0 Bath United
United started the second half with new found belief. Miles Reid created the first opening, going through a hole in the Braves defence before Michael van Vuuren, scored his side's first points of the game.
Five minutes later, the hooker went over again, this time wrestling his way over line after a series of pick and goes, reducing the deficit to 31-14.
Exeter were far from done as they hit back through replacement scrum-half Joe Snow. Despite a last-ditch tackle from the United defence, Snow managed to wriggle his way over the line to add to the Braves' lead.
United continued to test the Braves defence, and it was Davis, who profited from a pinpoint kick, with the winger grounding the bouncing ball to close the gap to 38-21.
United were then pegged back on their own line, with Jack Owlett finally breaching the defence after a number of phases, to put a bit of daylight on the scoreboard.
The play kept going back and forth, and it was United to add the next points. Replacement Darren Allinson sent a superb miss pass to McConnochie, who left the Exeter defense for dead before offloading to Davis to score his second of the game.
Exeter responded with another effort from Joe Snow, before Alex Davies set McConnochie through for his second try in as many games for United. Davies brilliantly stabbed the ball behind the Braves' backline, enabling McConnochie to get on the scoresheet in spectacular style with the clock in the red. Davies added the extras to complete a perfect afternoon from the tee.
Full-time - Exeter Braves 50-25 Bath United
Image courtesy of JMP/Exeter Chiefs