Planet Rugby

Saints pip Chiefs to go top

08th February 2014 21:00

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Winning feeling: Phil Dowson

Northampton Saints moved top of the Aviva Premiership thanks to a late try from George Pisi in their 17-16 win over Exeter Chiefs.

Unconverted tries from James Wilson and Samu Manoa gave the Saints a 10-9 advantage going into the break. Gareth Steenson responded with three penalties for Exeter and they took the lead when Dave Lewis went over for a converted touchdown.

But in difficult conditions, the Chiefs couldn't hold out and Pisi's try, allied by Stephen Myler's conversion, took Northampton to the summit.

Rob Baxter's men have endured a difficult period in the Premiership and started the game down in eighth position. They opened the match in the worst possible fashion when Dean Mumm was sin-binned for a stamp, but the Chiefs managed to halt the initial Northampton surge.

In fact, despite being down to 14 men, it was Exeter that opened the scoring through the boot of Steenson.

However, the visitors responded impressively by taking the ball through several phases before good hands sent Wilson across the whitewash.

Although the home side's fly-half restored their advantage after 34 minutes via a penalty, the restart saw the Saints claim the ball and set Manoa up in the corner.

With the wind at their backs, the West Country outfit ideally needed to take a lead into the interval but all they could manage was a third Steenson three-pointer.

Baxter's side were forced to move the ball from deep in the second period with conditions against them, but it seemed to inspire the Chiefs. Exeter made a number of yards with ball in hand and GJ van Velze was sin-binned for preventing Lewis from taking a tap penalty.

The scrum-half was to prove influential soon after when a driving maul ended in the former Gloucester man scampering over from close range. As conditions worsened, so did the quality of play.

Even so, Jim Mallinder's team still managed to string together a number of phases which pressurised the hosts' line. They held out in a dramatic final few minutes until Pisi's excellent line and Myler's conversion rescued a result.

The scorers:

For Exeter:
Try: Lewis
Con: Steenson
Pens: Steenson 3
Yellow Card: Mumm

For Saints:
Tries: Wilson, Manoa, G Pisi
Con: Myler
Yellow Card: Van Velze

Exeter: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Matt Jess, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Phil Dollman, 11 Tom James, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (c), 3 Alex Brown, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Hoani Tui, 19 Don Armand, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Fetu'u Vainikolo

Northampton: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Phil Dowson (c), 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 GJ Van Velze, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Alex Day, 22 Will Hooley, 23 Fa'atoina Auagavaia

Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees:Andrew Pearce, Kelvin Stewart
TMO: Ashley Rowden

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