|Gloucester (14) 34|
|Tries: Walker 2, Chapman, Penalty Cons: Barton 3 Pens: Barton 2|
|Exeter Chiefs (15) 18|
|Tries: Hodge, Armand Con: Skinner Pens: Skinner 2|
Hooker Henry Walker scored two tries as lowly Gloucester battled to a bonus-point victory over Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs.
Walker crossed twice in the first half, but Chiefs led 15-14 at the break through Josh Hodge’s fine solo try and Don Armand’s close-range effort.
The Cherry and Whites retook the lead through Charlie Chapman’s 53rd-minute try and controlled the game thereafter.
A penalty try gave them the bonus point against an inexperienced Exeter XV.
Both teams made a raft of changes, with Chiefs boss Rob Baxter handing four players their first Premiership starts as he opted to rest many of his stars for next week’s European Champions Cup tie against Lyon.
Gloucester, meanwhile, welcomed back England’s Jonny May and Wales wing Louis Rees-Zammit from Six Nations duty.
Walker was the beneficiary of a powerful driving maul to score the opening try after three minutes, with fly-half George Barton adding the extras.
But the Chiefs hit back immediately through an eye-catching first Premiership try for full-back Hodge, who tore through the smallest of gaps in midfield, before side-stepping his opposite number Santiago Carreras to dot down.
Harvey Skinner then put Exeter ahead with a simple penalty, before they also gained the numerical advantage when Billy Twelvetrees was sin-binned for a high tackle on Hodge.
Skinner converted Armand’s try to give Exeter a 15-7 lead, but the Cherry and Whites broke the gathering Chiefs momentum with a pushover try which gave Walker his second.
Lewis Ludlow was then tackled five metres short and returning England winger May was nudged into touch as he stretched to score, as the Chiefs kept Gloucester out to take a 15-14 point lead into the break.
The hosts were camped in the Chiefs half in the early stages of the second period and eventually made the pressure count when substitute scrum-half Chapman darted over from the breakdown to move the hosts ahead on the scoreboard.
The penalties were mounting up for the visitors and Barton took the opportunity to put Gloucester 24-15 ahead from the tee shortly before the hour mark.
Skinner’s 73rd-minute penalty got the Chiefs back in striking distance at 24-18, but the hosts stretched clear once more with the late penalty try securing maximum points.
Gloucester head coach George Skivington told BBC Radio Gloucestershire:
“I’m really pleased, particularly with the last play there to get the bonus point. I think that showed real guts and was really clinical.
“They’re a seriously well-oiled machine, they’ve got a really good squad and they don’t make many mistakes, so if you let them into the game they take their chances and they’re hard to break down.
“I think it’s the sort of game we’ve been on the brink of delivering a few times only to give a penalty away in the last minute. It’s a good performance but we’ve got a long way to go. We’re still building and we can be a lot more clinical than that.”
Gloucester: Carreras; Rees-Zammit, Twelvetrees, Atkinson, May; Barton, Heinz; Rapava-Ruskin, Walker, Balmain, Slater, Alemanno, Reid, Ludlow (capt), Ackermann.
Replacements: Socino, Seville, Ford-Robinson, Clarke, Morgan, Clement, Chapman, Sharples .
Exeter Chiefs: Hodge; Woodburn, John, Baldwin, Cordero; Skinner, Hidalgo-Clyne; Kenny, Yeandle (capt), Street, Lonsdale, Price, Armand, Capstick, Tuima.
Replacements: Taione, Southworth, Petch, Witty, Wrigh, Townsend, Relton, Short.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Yellow cards: Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Petch (Exeter)