Gloucester head coach Johan Ackermann explained the decision to substitute Danny Cipriani early in the second half as his side crashed to a 23-6 defeat at the hands of Exeter at Sandy Park.

Cipriani had kicked Gloucester into an early 6-0 lead but then missed a penalty before a shocking pass from him gifted Alex Cuthbert an interception try and Gloucester's game was up.

Nic White scored Exeter's other try with Gareth Steenson converting both and adding three penalties.

Ackermann said: "With the score at 20-6 we decided to give Owen Williams a go as he hasn't had much game time this season. Danny can't play every minute of every game."

Gloucester had the majority of both possession and territory but lacked the necessary accuracy to capitalise and a resilient Exeter defence was able to keep their try-line intact.

"The first 20-30 minutes were decent from us but we gave the momentum away and didn't play the conditions well enough," Ackermann said.

"Two or three soft moments crept in and they exploited them to punish us. It was a great kick to set up their first and then came Danny's interception so it was a 14 point catch-up.

"At the right moments, they did the right things and our decision making was not good enough as we made a fight of it but Exeter are a tough team."

In a fortnight's time, Gloucester face two consecutive European games against Exeter, which Ackermann accepted would be tough to turn in Gloucester's favour.

"It's a unique situation and they are going to get stronger but hopefully the Kingsholm factor will help," he added.

"We have to be more patient and need to a lot better on the day so it will take some doing to fix it and in reality we will need a massive effort on the day."

Exeter coach Ali Hepher saw the Chiefs overcome a slow start to gain control and ultimately win comfortably to remain at the top of the Premiership table.

"We didn't snap into our wet weather game quickly enough and played too much around half-way, which invited pressure," the former fly-half said.

"Our starts haven't been great but the boys haven't got flustered and soon put the pressure on the opposition. You can't complain when we are top of the league and unbeaten.

"The game was a bit of an arm-wrestle but our scrum set the foundation and the two tries from long range were the key moments."