Exeter Chiefs produced a magnificent Aviva Premiership showing to beat Northampton 30-9 at Sandy Park on Sunday.
Exeter Chiefs produced a magnificent Aviva Premiership performance to beat Northampton 30-9 at Sandy Park.
It was the Chiefs' ninth win in eleven games at their fortress home ground and Northampton's sixth consecutive defeat in the competition.
The result all but assures their Premiership safety as tries by lock Tom Hayes, centre Sireli Naqelevuki and back-row Tom Johnson, aided by fifteen points from the boot of fly-half Gareth Steenson eased them to a surprise victory.
But it was the Saints who came out determined to end their dreadful recent run and were rewarded when stand-off Stephen Myler kicked a penalty.
Exeter replied immediately through a Steenson three points. However, two more Myler penalties gave Northampton a 9-3 half-time lead.
Steenson levelled matters with two three pointers in quick succession before the Chiefs took the lead for the first time, when lock Hayes burrowed over after a strong driving maul.
Almost straight from the kick-off and Exeter scored their second try. A Haydn Thomas box-kick was well collected by winger Nemani Nadolo and he fed Naqelevuki to touch down in the left corner.
Northampton pressed but strong Chiefs defence kept them out, before a loose ball was well picked up by Johnson who went all the way to make sure of the win.
In an attempt to regain some pride, Saints looked to move the ball from deep and despite a yellow card to Exeter wing Nic Sestaret, they couldn't break down a stubborn rearguard.
Tries: Hayes, Naqelevuki, Johnson
Con: Steenson 3
Pen: Steenson 3
Pen: Myler 3
Exeter: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Nemani Nadolo, 13 Phil Dollman, 12 Sireli Naqelevuki, 11 Nic Sestaret, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Chad Slade, 4 Tom Hayes (capt), 3 Chris Budgen, 2 Neil Clark, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Simon Alcott, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Ignacio Elosu, 19 Dave Gannon, 20 James Phillips, 21 Junior Poluleuligaga, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Matt Jess.
Northampton: 15 Bruce Reihana, 14 Joe Ansbro, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Paul Diggin, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Stuart Commins, 8 Mark Easter, 7 Phil Dowson (capt), 6 Calum Clark, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Brett Sharman, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Andy Long, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Christian Day, 20 Adam Eustace, 21 Ryan Powell, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Greig Tonks.
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Alan Biggs, Roger Baileff
TMO: Geoff Warren