Exeter's Rob Baxter concedes defeat in play-off race following Bristol loss

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Bristol Bears' Alapati Leiua gets past Exeter Chief's Joe Simmonds - PA
Bristol Bears' Alapati Leiua gets past Exeter Chief's Joe Simmonds - PA

Bristol Bears 40 Exeter Chiefs 33

Rob Baxter, the Exeter Chiefs director of rugby, admitted his side's hopes of reaching the Gallagher Premiership play-offs are "done" with Exeter set to finish outside the top four for the first time since 2015 following defeat to Bristol.

"Two [bonus] points tonight, I think we are done," Baxter conceded. "Mathematically, maybe not. It is disappointing. I think today has kind of highlighted that we have got to move on."

The hosts ran in six tries including a brace for Charles Piutau to give all their departing players, including 38-year-old prop John Afoa, a perfect send-off at home at the end of a challenging season.

"Every game there has been glimpses of that sort of game, but it has been in and out. Tonight, we talked about enjoying this game and working hard and playing with no fear," said Pat Lam, Bristol's director of rugby.

It took 20 minutes before Harry Randall, the England scrum-half, cleverly broke the deadlock with a tapped penalty, catching Exeter out before sending over his half-back partner Callum Sheedy for the opening try.

Exeter responded well through Santiago Grondona but back came Bristol, Piutau dotting down behind the posts after a good sidestep to finish off a patient attack. Barely two minutes later and Exeter were over again, Josh Hodge going over in the corner to make it 14-14 at the break.

Bristol struck first in the second half, with Randall's drifting run making the space for Piutau to score his second before the best try of the bunch, a break by Sheedy followed by an audacious over-the-head pass to Alapati Leiua giving the departing centre an ideal farewell try and leaving Exeter in danger.

Exeter to their credit fought back, a Bristol yellow card for Jack Bates for a high tackle and quick scores from James Kenny and Olly Woodburn making it 28-28.

But Toby Fricker's interception try picking off a Henry Slade pass put Bristol ahead again before they killed Exeter off for good, Luke Morahan crossing for Bristol's sixth try with Dave Ewers' late consolation meaning Exeter headed home with two bonus points.

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