BRACKNELL RFC lost a thrilling South West Premier clash 42-40 at Exeter University on Saturday.

The Lily Hill men made a disastrous start as second row Edward Grinsted crashed over under the Bracknell posts with less than five minutes gone for a converted try.

The Exeter lead was then extended with a penalty from fly half Harry Bazalgette, leaving Bracknell 10-0 down and yet to get out of their half.

Exeter wing William Yarnell furthered the hosts' advantage when he found space out wide to cross, and a second score by the same player was then converted to make it 22-0 after 25 minutes.

Yet Bracknell roared back as the half wore on, and with 30 minutes on the clock, a break by Cam McDonald and an offload to Chris Laidler allowed him to show the defence a clean pair of heels to open Bracknell’s scoring.

The conversion from Vic Hardwick was good, and only moments later some nimble hands got the ball to Gabe Hills out wide for him to finish well for Bracknell’s second try. Hardwick again added the extras as before McDonald again broke the defence to score under the posts.

Hardwicke converted to cut Exeter’s lead to just one point at the break.

Exeter opened the second half scoring, a Bazalgette penalty extending the lead before centre Thomas Foot scored the bonus-point try for the hosts.

Again Bracknell responded, though, and from an attacking line-out a catch-and-drive saw the Bracknell captain Michael Clarke cross the whitewash for their bonus-point try.

Bracknell took the lead for the first time in a wonderfully topsy-turvy game when Jason Henry seized on a loose pass to run the length of the pitch. Hardwicke's fifth successful conversion made it 35-32 to the visitors.

Exeter struck back, however, Yarnell completing his hat-trick with a strong run, and a well-struck conversion from Bazalgette took the Exeter lead to four points with only minutes left in the game.

Yet Bracknell attacked again, Giuseppe Salustri breaking the Exeter defence before McDonald weaved his way through the Exeter defence for his second try of the day and seeming to earn Bracknell the win.

The conversion from Hardwicke just falling short, though, and from the restart the ball was knocked on and gathered by a Bracknell player from an offside position.

The referee awarded a penalty to Exeter in front of the posts and Bazalgette's final kick secured the victory – there not being enough time for the game to be restarted.

Bracknell Head of Rugby, Daniel ap Dafydd, admitted: “We can’t give that many points away and expect to win games. There were too many errors which cost us."

Fourth-bottom Bracknell will bid to return to winning ways at home to Exmouth on Saturday (2.15pm).