Exeter ascend to the summit of Premiership following Vermeulen’s decisive try secures victory against Bristol.

Exeter claimed the top spot in the Premiership by defeating Bristol 24-14 at Ashton Gate. The Chiefs scored four tries to Bristol’s two, earning a bonus point with Jacques Vermeulen’s late try.

Throughout the game, Exeter remained composed, especially when near Bristol’s goal line. Besides Vermeulen’s try, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, and Stu Townsend also scored for Exeter. Henry Slade successfully converted two tries.

Bristol responded with tries from Gabriel Oghre and Noah Heward, converted by Callum Sheedy. However, it was another frustrating match for Pat Lam’s team. Exeter may lose the top spot after this weekend’s matches, but their status as genuine contenders for the title cannot be questioned.

Bristol had to cope with injuries to Ellis Genge, Harry Thacker, and Fitz Harding, while Exeter made several changes from their previous match against Leicester. This included starts for Rusi Tuima and Ross Vintcent.

Exeter’s pack immediately made progress, taking the lead in the seventh minute with Iosefa-Scott’s try. Bristol quickly leveled the score with Oghre’s try. Both teams showcased impressive play despite numerous penalties called by referee Christophe Ridley.

Exeter extended their lead to 12-7 with Feyi-Waboso’s try. Bristol took the lead just before half-time with Heward’s try and Sheedy’s conversion. However, Feyi-Waboso continued to trouble Bristol’s defense and assisted in Exeter’s third try, scored by Townsend.

Townsend’s sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on did not allow Bristol to capitalize on their temporary advantage. Exeter maintained a three-point lead throughout most of the second half, with defenses dominating.

Finally, when Bristol ran out of steam, Exeter sealed the victory with Vermeulen’s try and Slade’s conversion, securing a maximum five-point haul.

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