Exeter Chiefs 5 Worcester Warriors 6.

TO SAY you have beaten reigning champions and current league leaders Exeter Chiefs in their own backyard is barely believable.

But to be able to say you did it without scoring a try and reducing the opposition to five points is downright ridiculous.

Worcester Warriors’ fans would have woken up questioning whether it was all a dream, but it really did happen. And it sent shockwaves through the Aviva Premiership.

It was far from a thriller. In fact, it was difficult to watch at times as the ball was booted from one end to the other while both teams made mistakes.

But this performance of guts and determination will live long in the memory for Warriors’ supporters and could be crucial to the club’s survival hopes this season.

Chris Pennell will go down as the match-winner courtesy of his two first-half penalties but this was a game where defensive fortitude prevailed.

When Pennell squandered the chance to open up a nine-point cushion at the start of the second half there was a feeling that the penalty miss could come back to haunt him.

And when Mitch Lees burrowed over for Exeter’s opening try there was a sense that Worcester would eventually crumble under pressure.

But after the 57th minute score Alan Solomons’ men refused to give an inch as they hung onto their slender lead at a stunned Sandy Park.

Yes, Exeter were without Jack Nowell, Sam Simmonds, Alec Hepburn and Harry Williams due to the Six Nations.

But Warriors can make that same point with top try-scorer Josh Adams away with Wales, centre Ben Te’o in action for England and in-form back rower David Denton called-up by Scotland.

Worcester were also dealt the blow of losing lock Will Spencer, back from ankle surgery, two hours before kick-off due to illness.

But from the opening minute the visitors signalled their intensions when the impressive Ryan Mills powered in at a ruck to win the ball back for his side.

After a drab opening 20 minutes, Pennell broke the deadlock with a superbly-struck penalty kick from just inside Exeter’s half.

Warriors centre Jackson Willison and Exeter wing Olly Woodburn then missed rare try-scoring opportunities before the away side extended their lead to 6-0 thanks to another Pennell three-pointer on the stroke of half-time.

After the interval, Darren Barry came agonisingly close to crossing the whitewash on 43 minutes before Pennell was presented with a kickable penalty.

The full-back shanked his attempt wide, though, and Exeter looked to make him pay for it. Thomas Waldron went powering through only to be stopped by Pennell and Sam Lewis.

The pressure soon told as Chiefs secured the ball at the line-out before second row Lees forced his way over the try-line.

But Warriors kept their noses in front as Gareth Steenson’s conversion came off the right upright.

With just one point separating the two sides it was now down to who would hold their nerve and keep their defensive shape as the tension increased.

Exeter pushed, but Warriors’ aggression in the tackle and at the breakdown nullified the hosts’ attacks with the whole team putting their bodies on the line.

Solomons’ decision to put six forwards on the bench also paid dividends as Worcester held out for a famous win against Exeter who had not lost at home in the league since October 2016.

With relegation rivals London Irish losing against Sale Sharks, Warriors also moved 12 points clear of the drop zone.