Premiership: Exeter 20-12 Northampton
Last updated on .From the section Rugby Union
|Exeter (3) 20|
|Try: Woodburn Pens: Steenson 5|
|Northampton (12) 12|
|Tries: Dickson, K Pisi Con: Hanrahan|
|Relive Sunday's Premiership action|
Exeter Chiefs scored 17 unanswered second-half points as they fought back with victory over in-form Northampton to move top of the Premiership.
Saints arrived at Sandy Park on the back of five wins in six games and led 12-3 at the break thanks to tries from Lee Dickson and Ken Pisi.
Olly Woodburn scored in the corner to cut Northampton's lead.
And Gareth Steenson kicked four penalties, to add to a first-half effort, to seal victory for Exeter.
Exeter, who have won four of their last five matches, have never finished in the top four but look well set for a play-off place and sit first after Saracens lost to Leicester later on Sunday.
|Sunday's Premiership results|
|Wasps 39-12 Sale|
|London Irish 23-18 Gloucester|
|Leicester 21-13 Saracens|
Rob Baxter's side were completely transformed after half-time as they dominated the breakdown and won 10 second-half penalties, with Saints failing to earn one.
Saints finished last season as the league leaders but it has been a mixed campaign this time around following a poor start.
Their pack struggled to impose themselves in the second half, although they thought they had nicked a losing bonus-point just before full-time but the Television Match Official ruled no try.
Exeter assistant coach Ali Hepher: "We looked as though we weren't enjoying our rugby in the first half as we were frightened to make mistakes.
"We had a quiet word at half-time and this freed us up. We created a different, positive mindset and we said that we needed to be positive and not afraid of errors.
"We took on the message and turned the screw, we had a bit of self-belief."
On replacing Thomas Waldrom: "We struggled at the breakdown, Thomas wasn't injured and Julian Salvi is one of the best in that area in the Premiership."
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder: "It's frustrating, we didn't get the bounce of the ball and a few refereeing decisions went against us.
"I thought we scored a good try right at the end, which would have got us a bonus point, and the officials were wrong to disallow it.
"I thought we were very good in the first half as we took our opportunities but our second-half performance was poor as we coughed up possession and kicked away too much ball.
"The Six Nations period was a good one for us as we've won more than we've lost and hopefully we'll be able to integrate our international players back into our side."
Exeter: Turner; Woodburn, Slade, Whitten, Short; Steenson, Lewis; Moon, Yeandle (capt.), Williams, Atkins, Parling, Ewers, Armand, Waldrom.
Replacements: Taione, Hepburn, Rimmer, Stevenson, Salvi, Chudley, Hill, Bodilly.
Northampton: Foden; K Pisi, G Pisi, Mallinder, Tuala; Hanrahan, Dickson (capt.); Waller, Haywood, Hill, Craig, Day, Harrison, Gibson, Fisher.
Replacements: Marshall, Waller, Denman, Matfield, Wood, Fotuali'i, Myler, Wilson.