An early try from Steve Shingler was not enough as Exeter Chiefs displayed their class in Cardiff Blues' final pre-season friendly.
The 27-year-old finished a fine try as the Blues opened up a seven-point lead however the Premiership finalists flexed their forward muscle as they battled to victory.
Sam Simmonds, Matt Kvesic, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Ian Whitten all touched down in a powerful performance, while referee Tom Foley also awarded the hosts a scrum penalty try.
The Blues kick off their Guinness PRO14 season with a home clash against reigning league and European champions Leinster on Friday, August 31.
Despite an early counter from Matthew Morgan, Wales' Capital Region soon found themselves under pressure as Exeter Chiefs went through the phases.
They almost manufactured a fine try after just three minutes but Ollie Devoto was unable to hold onto Tom O'Flaherty offload with the whitewash at his mercy.
It was soon the Blues that enjoyed a scoring opportunity following some fine handling from Garyn Smith. The centre flicked the ball out of contact to Morgan, who hit the outside and released Owen Lane.
With the cover defence benefitting from the angle, he cut inside and looked for a scoring pass to Lloyd Williams but it was wayward and the opportunity was lost.
Morgan continued to cause the hosts problems with his electric footwork and the full-back was once again involved in the build-up to the opening try.
He received the ball from Smith and managed to slip the ball to Josh Turnbull on the touchline.
The versatile forward had minimal space to work in but managed to ease past the defender before passing inside to Steve Shingler, who raced home.
Jarrod Evans slotted the simple conversion to hand Cardiff Blues a 7-0 lead after 12 minutes but Exeter rallied.
They piled plenty of pressure on the Blues, who showed a huge amount of resilience but on 21 minutes the Chiefs had their breakthrough.
After kicking a penalty to the corner they were held at bay once but after going back to the corner they rumbled over with Sam Simmonds the beneficiary. Gareth Steenson added the extras to level the scores.
With both teams turning down shots at goal it was soon the Blues' turn to kick to the corner. They went through a succession of phases but were unable to break the Chiefs down and conceded a harsh penalty.
Steenson nudged the Chiefs into the lead on 27 minutes as the home side continued to benefit from marginal decisions.
Cardiff Blues could, and probably should, have claimed a second try just after the hour mark as Lloyd Williams took advantage of new breakdown laws to steal the ball inside his own 22.
He tore into Exeter territory and looked to bring Lane on the switch but Exeter recovered as he received the ball and the Blues were soon penalised.
The hosts delivered another blow on the stroke of half-time as they forced a penalty try following a sustained period of pressure to stretch their lead to 17-7.
In a frenetic opening period to the second-half both teams enjoyed half opportunities, perhaps the best to the Blues when under pressure Evans skipped past four defenders.
He found Seb Davies in support but the rangy forward was isolated and was forced to kick ahead to no avail.
Cardiff Blues continued to enjoy the momentum and they were soon rewarded with a penalty, which Evans slotted to but the deficit to 17-10.
Despite the promising start to the half, Exeter took control as they claimed a third try on 60 minutes with Matt Kvesic touching down and Steenson converting.
Cardiff Blues should have responded following a quick turnover, which saw Tom Williams break clear but he went alone and was caught by Kvesic.
Moments later Ian Whitten intercepted Halaholo's looping pass to rub salt into the wounds.
John Mulvihill's men threw the kitchen sink at Exeter in the final stages but the hosts hung on to deny a consolation score.