EXETER leapfrogged Saracens into top spot in the Gallagher Premiership, if only for 24 hours, with a 39-24 win over Bath.

It took an hour for the Chiefs to overpower their west country rivals, with Bath leading 19-18 going into the last quarter before the Devon side scored 21 points in as many minutes.

Tries by Dave Ewers, Ian Whitten and Jack Nowell, all converted by fly-half Gareth Steenson who kicked 14 points in all, added to first-half scores from Stu Townsend and Don Armand.

Bath tried desperately to claim a losing bonus point at the death but were left empty-handed. They scored tries through Rhys Priestland and Chris Cook while Freddie Burns kicked a conversion and four penalties.

A full house at the Rec had to endure five minutes of kick-tennis before Exeter slipped into higher gear but, after 12 rucks near the Bath line, Taulupe Faletau and Zach Mercer forced a penalty to relieve the pressure.

Burns opened the scoring on 11 minutes with a 45-metre penalty which sparked them into life, full of running and off-loads but errors too.

With the home scrum at a distinct disadvantage, it was a surprise when Bath extended their lead on 22 minutes with a sweeping cross-field move.

The hard-working Tom Ellis eventually found Semesa Rokoduguni on his shoulder on the right touchline and the winger's kick infield bounced perfectly for Priestland to gather and score.

Burns converted but Exeter hit back with a 27th-minute Steenson penalty and, almost immediately, a Townsend intercept try from near halfway also converted by his fly-half.

Another Burns penalty edged Bath back in front but flanker Armand scored in the corner from Steenson's well-judged grubber kick to give Exeter a 15-13 lead at the break.

Burns and Steenson swapped penalties in the early minutes of the second half and then Bath lost Rokoduguni to the sin-bin on 48 minutes for a deliberate knock-on.

Oddly, it was Exeter's discipline that then began to unravel as Bath forced successive penalties and Burns landed the second from 50 metres out on the right.

And when Chiefs left wing Santiago Cordero danced his way almost to the try line he was penalised for not releasing the ball.

Bath's penalty woes at the scrum returned however and, opting for the line-out, Exeter's pack forced their way over to claim a try confirmed by the TV match official and credited to Ewers. Steenson's conversion put them 19-25 ahead going into the last quarter.

Minutes later, replacement Whitten danced past two Bath defenders to add the fourth try, with Steenson converting to extend the lead to 13 points. Nowell slid over for a fifth after Henry Slade had broken upfield from his own 22.

Replacement Cook finished off a nicely worked try for Bath and Whitten then saw yellow for a late hit on Jackson Willison.