Coventry 19 Exeter Chiefs 24
Another disappointing afternoon for Coventry as, despite a grandstand finish in the seven minutes of injury time, they were unable to claim the draw or the win they probably just about deserved.
During the final three minutes of added time, winger James Moore almost claimed a length-of-the-field try as he took an intercepted pass from Apoua Stewart to race down the main stand touchline to the Exeter 22.
Second and third-phase ball resulted in a penalty to Cov on the other side of the field from where a close-range penalty lineout was claimed by Cov and the resultant pack surge led to prop Peter Bucknell claiming a try.
Not so, said referee Chris Sharp, who gave a five-metre scrum to the hosts but then penalised their front row for lifting as the scrum formed. Exeter penalty to touch. Game over.
Coventry skipper Ben Gulliver was not convinced of the justice of the 'no score'.
"We were over the line at the end there and the referee has given us a tough call. I am not blaming the ref but, if you are over the whitewash and you score, then you deserve the five points and not a loss, he complained.
" Peter does say he scored a try but the referee says 'no' and he is the most important one."
The game was even throughout. Exeter wing Alastair Murdoch's scored a first-half try, Tony Yapp converting to add to his second-minute penalty, and the score was answered by Moore's three first-half penalties, making it 9-10 at the break to the Chiefs.
However, Kurt Johnson's (43) and Moore's (58) tries were cancelled out by Sam Blythe's close-range drive on 53 minutes and scrum-half Kevin Barrett's try after 63, Yapp converting both.
The dual sin-binning of combative Cov hooker Rich Protherough and Chiefs centre Mark Fatialofa's after 67 minutes brought an edge to the game. Both were dismissed for dissent.
Fatialofa's sin-binning was surprising as Protherough's original offence was to scuffle with Fatialofa's brother Alifatu, five minutes earlier.
Mark Fatialofa's aggressiveness continued as he left the pitch, and eventually he had to be restrained by the Exeter coaching staff. The centre can count himself lucky not to have received the full red card.
Exeter held on for the win, a gritty result, despite Cov's efforts.
"We thought we handled quite well in the first half, despite some passive tackling and we thought we could win today," said Gulliver.
"We hope we can turn our away form into better home form and get a win soon. We've shown we can win these games, but we're lacking the killer instinct, which is puzzling to me, the players and the coaching staff."