Chris Pennell celebrated his 150th Premiership appearance with a try which helped Warriors to claim two valuable bonus points.
It wasn’t quite the perfect Testimonial Game for Pennell as Warriors narrowly failed to beat the league leaders but the former England full-back also became only the sixth Warriors player to score 400 points for the club on his landmark appearance.
Pennell’s 75th minute try helped Warriors to secure a try bonus point and they held on to also claim a losing bonus point in another epic Sixways encounter.
A scrappy try from Exeter wing Olly Woodburn from the final play of the first half ultimately made the difference and proved costly for Warriors who produced another superb second half display which produced tries for Bryce Heem, Ted Hill and Tom Howe before Pennell went over.
With Newcastle Falcons and Bristol Bears also winning it was vital that Warriors took something from the game and Pennell, who finished with a haul of nine points, ensured they were rewarded for their tenacity.
Warriors had been guilty of conceding early points in recent weeks but this time they took the lead when Duncan Weir stroked over a ninth minute penalty after Exeter were drawn off-side from a lineout.
But the lead proved shortlived as Exeter attacked down the right and full-back Santiago Cordero went over although it was only after lengthy deliberation between referee JP Doyle and TMO Trevor Fisher that the score was confirmed.
Warriors took the attack to Exeter and made the league leaders work for their next try which came after 34 minutes when Cordero crossed on the overlap after a period of sustained pressure.
This time Gareth Steenson landed the conversion but Weir immediately pulled back three points after Exeter were penalised from the restart.
Having got back into the game, Warriors surrendered the initiative right on the stroke of half time when they conceded another kick-and-rush try. The ball bounced unkindly for Tom Howe but favourably for Olly Woodburn who dotted down with Steenson’s conversion opening up a 13 points lead at the break.
Warriors reduced the gap nine minutes into the second half when Heem crossed but Exeter responded with their bonus point try from Tom O’Flaherty after Cordero had done the damage.
Hill powered over to keep Warriors in the hunt and Pennell, who started the match on 399 career points kicked the conversion to join Andy Goode, Shane Drahm, Joe Carlisle, James Brown and Sateki Tuipulotu in one of Warriors’ most exclusive clubs.
Although Harry Williams burrowed over from close range for Exeter’s fifth try, Warriors finished strongly.
A long and sustained attack created space for Howe to continue his remarkable try-scoring sequence – his tenth in 11 first team games this season – but the most popular score of the day undoubtedly came from Pennell who had the honour of leading out the side before kick-off accompanied by his two young children Harla and Tristan.
Warriors | 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Francois Venter (Lawrence 17) (Lance 47-48), 12 Ryan Mills (C), 11 Tom Howe, 10 Duncan Weir (Lance 52), 9 Francois Hougaard, 1 Callum Black (Waller 58), 2 Niall Annett (Miller 63), 3 Nick Schonert (Milasinovich 58), 4 Anton Bresler (Phillips 67), 5 Michael Fatialofa, 6 Ted Hill, 7 Sam Lewis, 8 Marco Mama.
Replacements | 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Pierce Phillips, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Jono Lance 23 Ollie Lawrence.
9m | Weir pen 3-0
13m | Cordero try 3-5
34m | Cordero try 3-10
35m | Steenson con 3-12
38m | Weir pen 6-12
39m | Woodburn try 6-17
40m | Steenson con 6-19
48m | Heem try 11-19
51m | O’Flaherty try 11-24
52m | Steenson con 11-26
57m | Hill try 16-26
58m | Pennell con 18-26
64m | Williams try 18-31
65m | Steenson con 18-33
69m | Howe try 23-33
75m | Pennell try 28-33
76m | Pennell con 30-33