National One: Exeter Chiefs 22 Pertemps Bees 11

Much was made of the off-field gulf between these sides in the run-up to this clash. When Bees took the honours at Sharmans Cross Road in September, the game was watched by a few hundred people who enjoyed a pint in the ramshackle clubhouse at the end of the afternoon.

Saturday's encounter was watched by nearly 2,500 spectators, many of whom enjoyed the impressive hospitality offered by Sandy Park's #18 million facilities. This was always going to go down as the match between the 'haves' and 'have nots'.

But for head coach Steve Williams, it was the onset of full-time rugby that handed Exeter the advantage over a visibly tired Bees outfit.

"For five of our boys, it is their third match in a week," Williams explained. "Because of the way the squad's been thrown together, so many of the guys are playing for other teams and they turn up tired.

"It was the lack of energy that cost us in the end. They could have cried off before the match but, instead, they fronted up pretty well."

Williams admits his hands are tied when players have to turn out for college games and Gloucester's Second XV.

"It doesn't serve us well as a club but there is nothing we can do about it — and we pay a lot of money for these guys," he said.

"But it means we cannot do a lot of training at the moment because they are so tired."

It was the Bees who notched the first points of the game, Matt Nutthall stroking over a 40-metre penalty after the home side had strayed offside.

But the visitors should have been boasting a ten-point lead by then. Nutthall skewed an easier penalty kick wide inside the opening two minutes before prop Terry Sigley knocked on as he was set to cross the line.

The Chiefs breathed a collective sigh of relief and promptly took control of the game.

A Tony Yapp penalty levelled the scores while tries from flanker Tony Walker and lock Ian Brown, the first converted by Yapp, saw them head in at the break with a 15-6 lead, Nutthall kicking a second penalty for the Bees.

Winger Jason Luff breezed in for a third Exeter try within two minutes of the restart and almost struck again moments later when he ambled through some half-hearted tackling, only for Jon Higgins to halt him in his path.

When the Chiefs had scrum-half Kevin Barrett and hooker Simon Jenkins sent to the sin bin in quick succession, back row Akapusi Qera handed Bees a lifeline when he was driven over for a try.

But Exeter had the nous to hold on and claim the win, seeing out the final minutes with the ball in hand.

EXETER CHIEFS: Breeze, Luff, M Fatialofa, A Fatialofa (Fisher, 41), Kingdom, Yapp, Barrett; Jarvis, Jenkins, Horn-Smith (Liddington 78), Brown, Hanks, Walker (Blythe, 72), Miller (Willis, 50), Baxter. Replacements: Hodge, Bolt, Staniforth.
PERTEMPS BEES: Goodridge (Petty, 64), Palm, Knight, Davies, Nutthall, Higgins, Baxter (Spee, 51); Sigley (Dunning, 41), Miles (Pearl, 57), Long (Assi, 51), Davidson, Cornwell, Tuohy (Rawlins, 47), Qera, Halavatau (Miller, 77).
Referee: G Garner (RFU).