EXETER extended their lead at the top of the Premiership with a breathtaking first-half performance as they demolished third-placed Bath at a sell-out Sandy Park.

A totally outgunned Bath badly missed back-rowers Taulupe Faletau and Sam Underhill as their pack were battered into submission by a rampant Exeter eight.

Exeter had the game won by half-time when they led 28-3, and finished with a total of six tries in an eventual 42-29 success. Luke Cowan-Dickie, James Short, Mitch Lees, Don Armand, Thomas Waldrom and Gareth Steenson all crossed with Steenson converting all of them.

Bath never scented a chance of repeating last season's 13-10 win at Sandy Park but they still scored four tries through Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson, Aled Brew and Matt Banahan. Rhys Priestland converted two, Joseph one, with Freddie Burns kicking a penalty.

Exeter dominated the opening exchanges and took an eighth-minute lead. Sam Skinner and Alec Hepburn softened up the Bath defence with powerful surges before Cowan-Dickie forced his way over from close range.

It took the Chiefs just another eight minutes to score their second try. Ill-discipline from Bath saw them concede three penalties in quick succession to give Exeter an attacking platform from which slick handling gave Short the chance to nip over in the corner.

Steenson converted both tries to give his side a 14-0 lead at the end of a one-sided first quarter.

As the second quarter progressed, the visitors secured more possession and territory and got themselves on the scoreboard when Burns kicked a penalty.

However Bath immediately bungled the restart for Skinner to gain possession and capitalise when Lees finished off a combination of forward drives to score Exeter's third.

Exeter almost scored again when Waldrom was denied by an excellent cover tackle from Zach Mercer but the respite was only temporary as Armand managed to squeeze over for the bonus-point try, still inside the first half.

Bath woes continued when England lock Charlie Ewels left the field with an injury and was replaced by James Phillips.

The second half began in similar vein with Waldrom and Hepburn thundering into the opposition and after 53 minutes, Exeter ensured there was to be no comeback from the visitors when Waldrom strolled through a non-existent defence.

Waldrom departed to huge cheers to be replaced by Sam Simmonds, with Jack Nowell also coming on after a two-month absence following a facial injury.

Bath brought on Priestland and Chris Cook at half-back before a brilliant cover tackle by Watson deprived Short after the wing had raced 50 metres.

Joseph broke away to score for Bath but normal service was resumed when Steenson scored a sixth try for Chiefs.

Exeter's intensity levels dropped for Watson, Brew and Banahan to all score tries in the last 10 minutes to secure a bonus point and give a final scoreline which totally flattered Bath.