Aviva Premiership: Exeter beat Gloucester to earn Heineken Cup place
Last Updated: 04/05/13 5:20pm
Richie Baxter: making his 431st and final appearance for Chiefs
Exeter beat Gloucester 40-39 in a thriller at Sandy Park as both sides qualified for next season's Heineken Cup.
Gareth Steenson kicked a last-minute penalty for the Chiefs to win the game, although by that stage the result was largely immaterial.
The Cherry and Whites had already secured their place in Europe's elite competition before kick-off, while Bath miss out after losing 23-14 at Saracens.
Steenson kicked 25 points in all as Exeter's Richie Baxter made his final appearance for the club, his 431st in a Chiefs shirt, since he made his senior debut away to Fylde 16 years ago.
Gloucester flanker Peter Buxton, meanwhile, signed off with his 274th appearance for the Cherry and Whites before making the short trip down the M5 to play Championship rugby under Andy Robinson at Bristol.
Exeter scored the opening try after six minutes as scrum half Hayden Thomas and Steenson combined before Jason Shoemark wiggled out of a tackle to offload to lock Dean Mumm who scored, with Steenson adding the touchline conversion followed by a 40-metre penalty.
Exeter continued to dominate possession and again pressed the Gloucester line with a break from Mumm, who fed lock Damian Welch. The second-row was tackled but rolled towards the line to touchdown.
Steenson was off target with the conversion from out wide but then added a 20 metre penalty.
Gloucester finally got point on the board after 20 minutes through a penalty from fly-half Freddie Burns, followed by their first try when Jonny May burst 45 metres down the touchline.
With 10 minutes of the first half remaining, another Exeter error led to Burns breaking from his own half and, with a man over, he fed lock Lua Lokotui who shipped the ball to winger Charlie Sharples, who raced away to score Gloucester's second try, with Burns adding the extras.
Henry Trinder scored the Cherry and White's third with an interception try after a mistake from Scaysbrook, but Exeter regained the lead on the stroke of half time after a series of infringements at a string of 10-metre scrums saw referee Garner award a penalty try. Steenson's conversion gave the Chiefs a 25-22 lead at the break.
The Exeter fly-half increased the Chiefs lead with three penalties in the opening 15 minutes of the second period, before Gloucester woke up midway through the half with full-back Rob Cook crossing in the corner for the bonus point try.
Burns added the conversion and a 30 metre penalty to reduce the arrears to two points with 17 minutes remaining, but, with the wind having turned in his favour, Steenson added his sixth penalty.
With under eight minutes to go, Burns squeezed in the corner for Gloucester's fifth try before adding the conversion with the ball bouncing off the far upright to get the Cherry and Whites back in to the lead.
Steenson was then short with his touchline penalty attempt with less than three minutes on the clock before full-back Luke Arscott sliced a drop goal, however Steenson redeemed himself from the penalty tee with 40 seconds remaining.