Exeter Chiefs defeated leaders Northampton Saints at Sandy Park and moved back into the top four of the Premiership. The hosts became the first side this season to do the double over the Saints.
A month of misery continues for the visitors; Northampton were put out of the European Champions Cup last weekend, as the French side Clermont Auvergne made light work of Aviva Premiership leaders.
The sides were even in the first half: the Chiefs’ Henry Slade had put the home side in front with a 25 – metre penalty kick in the 10th minute, and full-back Phil Dollaman scored the game’s first try for Exeter in the 17th minute, but his opposite number, James Wilson, crashed over in the corner eight minutes before half-time, to make 8-5 at the break. Two players were sin-binned in the first half: firstly Calum Clark, for the visitors, and then the hosts’ captain, Dean Mumm.
The pace increased in the second half, as Exeter showed discipline and dominance in the scrum; the Chiefs’ scrum is often praised for quality of its heavy pack. Their young prop Tomas Francis demonstrated a brilliant performance, as the hosts put pressure on the leaders to take advantage of their insecurities, which led to more penalties. Two of the yellow cards sent Northampton’s Stephen Myler and Alex Waller to the sin-bin in the first 10 minutes of the second half and the comings-and-goings had impact on their game.
Slade kicked his next goal in the 43rd minute of the second half, and three minutes later, the Chiefs were awarded a penalty try, which Slade converted, to give his team a 13 point advantage. He then scored his third penalty in the 55th minute and the hosts’ lead was extended to 16 points. They then defended superbly, as the Saints pushed late on, and by the time their wing Jamie Elliot found his way through the corner to score a try in the 80th minute, the match was finished.
The victory propelled the Chiefs back in fourth place, while the reigning champions Saints remained six points clear at the top with three games to go. #Rugby