Bath United were unable to cope with the firepower produced by Exeter Braves in Monday night's Aviva A League match at the Rec, losing 3-40 to the experienced squad from Devon.
Following successive free kicks for United deep in Exeter territory in the first four minutes, the home team were awarded a penalty in front of the posts that was gratefully converted by fly-half Adam Hastings. 3-0.
United were displaying admirable resolve in defence minutes later, camped on their own line, when they conceded the penalty that allowed Braves fly-half Will Hooley to level the scores in front of the sticks. 3-3.
Mercer was shown a yellow card before the first quarter was up, immediately following which the Braves forced a pushover try - the conversion of which Hooley nailed against a strong wind. 3-10.
A forward light in the pack, United continued to struggle against an experienced Braves pack, eventually conceding another penalty near the half hour. 3-13.
Although back to a full complement of players, life didn't get any easier for United as, in the 31st minute, Braves number eight and captain Kai Horstmann fed the ball to fullback Chrysander Botha to slides over for their second try. Hooley was this time unable to convert. 3-18.
As the final minutes of the first act wound down, Braves scored another pushover try through blindside Sam Simmonds thanks to strong forward momentum from the visiting pack. Hooley converted the try to end the first half.
Half time: Bath United 3-25 Exeter Braves
As the weather worsened, so did the rate of errors between both sides as the second half got underway.
United's brightest spark at this point was fly-half Hastings, who could have been away twice for long-range tries, only for play to be brought back due to earlier infringements by the home team.
Shortly after the hour, United were penalised for what the referee deemed a cynical offside, and Hooley again was the man to make Bath pay with his accurate boot. 3-28.
The Braves scored their third pushover try of the evening in the 70th minute, this time through lock Ollie Atkins, and converted by replacement fly-half Joe Simmonds. 3-35.
Three minutes from time, any hope United had of a late rally was dampened by the sin-binning of wing Jeff Williams for a supposed shoulder charge.
A minute left to play, replacement Braves wing Matt Jess added the coup de grace for the visitors with a powerful run up the left flank to touch down in the corner.
Full time: Bath United 3-40 Exeter Braves