Exeter Chiefs defeated leaders Northampton Saints at Sandy Park and moved backinto the top four of the Premiership. The hosts became the first side this season to do the double over theSaints.

A month ofmisery continues for the visitors; Northampton were put out of the European Champions Cuplast 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 infront with a 25 – metre penalty kick in the 10th minute, and full-backPhil Dollaman scored the game’s first try for Exeter in the 17th minute,but his oppositenumber, James Wilson, crashed over in the corner eight minutes before half-time,to make 8-5 at the break.

 Two playerswere sin-binned in the first half: firstly Calum Clark, for the visitors, and thenthe hosts’ captain, Dean Mumm.

The paceincreased in the second half, as Exeter showed discipline and dominance in thescrum; the Chiefs’ scrum is oftenpraised for quality of its heavy pack.  Theiryoung prop Tomas Francis demonstrated a brilliant performance, as the hosts put pressure on the leadersto take advantage of their insecurities, which led to more penalties. Two ofthe yellow cards sent Northampton’s Stephen Myler and Alex Waller to the sin-binin the first 10 minutes of the second half and the comings-and-goings had impacton their game.  

Slade kicked his next goal in the 43rdminute of the second half, and three minutes later, the Chiefs were awarded apenalty try, which Slade converted, to give his team a 13 point advantage.  He then scored his third penalty in the 55thminute 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 hisway through the corner to score a try in the 80th minute, the matchwas finished.

The victory propelled the Chiefs back in fourth place, while the reigningchampions Saints remained six points clearat the top with three games to go.