|Harlequins (13) 28|
|Tries: Chisholm, Earle 2, Marchant Cons: Lang Pens: Lang, Smith|
|Exeter (5) 26|
|Tries: Kvesic, Yeandle, Devoto, Whitten Cons: J Simmonds, Steenson 2|
Harlequins inflicted a first Premiership defeat of the season on leaders Exeter in an excellent match at Twickenham Stoop.
James Chisholm’s clever try from a lineout and a Nathan Earle score gave Quins a deserved 13-5 half-time lead.
Jack Yeandle and Ollie Devoto went over either side of Earle’s second try to move Exeter to within a point.
A penalty and Joe Marchant try gave the hosts a buffer before Ian Whitten’s runaway score set up a tense finale.
The bonus-point victory lifts Paul Gustard’s side up to fourth, while Exeter emerged with two points to stay top before Saracens’ game against Wasps on Saturday.
It is the first time Rob Baxter’s side have lost to Harlequins in eight meetings and comes after they had started the Premiership season with eight consecutive wins.
The home side had prop Kyle Sinckler back from international duty, while his England team-mate Mike Brown put through an inch-perfect grubber kick for Earle to touch down for a second time.
Exeter – without injured wing Jack Nowell – led for 15 minutes in the first half after Matt Kvesic crossed from a signature driving maul, and ensured they would not leave empty-handed when Whitten intercepted a loose Marcus Smith pass to run in.
Harlequins head of rugby Paul Gustard: “The thing we’ve been frustrated with over the past few weeks is our attack, and I think we showed a lot more endeavour.
“I thought we showed the true version of ourselves tonight.
“The pleasing thing for me is we’ve got the most bonus points in the competition, so we’re tough and competitive. For me that shows resilience, character and togetherness and that’s what I’m really proud of.”
Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter told BBC Radio Devon: “We’re pleased we got two points rather than nothing but I’m disappointed we haven’t won the game.
“We’ve got to credit the guys for digging in when the game kept almost getting away from us, but at the same we’ve also got to be honest and face some facts that we did some pretty silly things out there.
“I’ll be the first person to give some credit to Harlequins, but I think I’m going to be pretty frustrated with some individual mistakes that have happened out there.”
Harlequins: Brown; Ibitoye, Marchant, Saili, Earle; Lang, Care; Marler, Ward, Sinckler, Glynn, Merrick, Dombrandt, Clifford, Chisholm (capt).
Replacements: Crumpton, Boyce, Swainston, Luamanu, Kunatani, Mulchrone, Smith, Murley.
Exeter: Dollman; O’Flaherty, Whitten, Hill, Cuthbert; Simmonds, White; Low, Yeandle (capt), Holmes, Lees, Dennis, Ewers, Armand, Kvesic.
Replacements: Taione, Keast, Street, Atkins, Lawday, Maunder, Steenson, Devoto.