Leo Halavatau and Topsy Ojo touched down for the Exiles and Ian Humphreys kicked 13 points in the narrow defeat.
In a thoroughly entertaining first half of rugby it was the visitors that were first to strike. Phil Dollman crossed on four minutes after the Chiefs had dominated the opening exchanges.
Exeter took charge of the first quarter of the match. Gareth Steenson kicked three penalties and Luke Arscott crossed for their second try to give them an 18 point lead at 21-3.
Ian Humphreys kicked his second penalty on 22 minutes to start the fight back and played a big part in the Exiles first try.
The ball was turned over on halfway and the Ulsterman hacked the ball down into the Chiefs 22. Luke Arscott was penalised for holding the ball on the floor to give Irish a penalty. Humphreys kicked the ball to the corner and the forwards did the rest. Leo Halavatau touched down to score his first try for the club.
The Exiles trailed 13-21 at the break.
Irish started the second half brilliantly. Topsy Ojo ran on to Ian Humphreys nicely weighted kick and touched down in the far corner. Humphreys conversion made it a one point ball game at 20-21 to the Chiefs.
Humphreys put the Exiles in front for the first time in the match with a penalty on 50 minutes from 50 metres.
This topsy turvy encounter continued when Steenson put the visitors in front once again with another penalty goal. Steenson had the final say as his late penalty on 79 minutes confirmed the victory for Exeter 27 points to 23.
Score sequence (London Irish first): 0-5, 0-8, 0-11, 3-11, 13-14, 3-21, 6-21, 13-21, 20-21, 23-21, 23-24, 23-27
Scorers: Exeter Chiefs: Tries: Dollman (4), Arscott (18); Penalties: Steenson (7, 11, 15, 53, 79); Conversions: Steenson; London Irish: Penalties: Humphreys (12, 22, 50); Tries: Halavatau (31), Ojo (48); Conversions: Humphreys (2)
London Irish team
15. Tom Homer; 14. Topsy Ojo; 13. Sailosi Tagicakibau; 12. Shane Geraghty; 11. Anthony Watson; 10. Ian Humphreys (rep: Steven Shingler, 58-61); 9. Darren Allinson; 1. Max Lahiff (rep: Cai Griffiths, 74); 2. Brian Blaney (rep: Gerard Ellis, 67); 3. Leo Halavatau; 4. Bryn Evans; 5. Matt Garvey; 6. Declan Danaher (Captain); 7. Jamie Gibson; 8. Chris Hala’ufia (rep: Alex Gray, 69)
Replacements: 16. Gerard Ellis; 17. Richard Palframan; 18. Cai Griffiths; 19. Kieran Low; 20. Alex Gray; 21. Conor Gaston; 22. Steven Shingler; 23. Jack Moates
Exeter Chiefs team
15. Luke Arscott; 14. Jack Nowell; 13. Phil Dollman; 12. Jason Shoemark (rep: Sireli Naqelevuki, 58); 11. Matt Jess; 10. Gareth Steenson; 9. Haydn Thomas; 1. Brett Sturgess (rep: Ben Moon, 67); 2. Chris Whitehead; 3. Carl Rimmer (rep: Hoani Tui, 50); 4. Tom Hayes (Captain); 5. James Hanks (rep: Aly Muldowney, 58); 6. Dean Mumm; 7. James Scaysbrook (rep: Tom Johnson, 67; 8. Richard Baxter
Replacements: 16. Simon Alcott; 17. Ben Moon; 18. Hoani Tui; 19. Aly Muldowney; 20. Tom Johnson; 21. Kevin Barrett; 22. Ignacio Mieres; 23. Sireli Naqelevuki
Referee: Llyr apGeraint-Roberts
Show your "Exile-Style" and wear it with pride!