Premiership: Northampton Saints 14-35 Exeter Chiefs

By Brent PilnickBBC Sport
Will Chudley heads for the Northampton tryline
Will Chudley's try came on his first Premiership start of the season
Aviva Premiership
Northampton: (7) 14
Tries: Tuala, Reinach Cons: Francis 2
Exeter: (11) 35
Tries: Chudley, S Simmonds, Waldrom, Yeandle Cons: Steenson 2, J Simmonds Pens: Steenson 3

Northampton's fortunes did not change in their first Premiership match since Jim Mallinder's sacking as they lost at home to champions Exeter.

Will Chudley gave Exeter an eight-point lead when he latched onto his own chip.

Saints were rewarded for a good first half when Ahsee Tuala went over, but it was as good as it got for them

Exeter dominated after the break as Sam Simmonds and Thomas Waldrom went over and Jack Yeandle added another after a consolation try by Cobus Reinach.

Northampton have now won just one of their past 12 games, while the Chiefs extended their lead at the top of the table.

After a shaky start for Saints as the excellent Chudley went over against the club he supported as a boy, they grew into the game with Tuala finishing off a great flowing move by the home side's backs.

Saints could have been ahead at half-time - twice they won penalties and kicked for touch, then lost the resulting five-metre lineouts - as the Exeter defence held firm.

It was a different story after the break, with an early Gareth Steenson penalty the catalyst for relentless Exeter pressure.

Saints wing Ben Foden was sin-binned as he held up an attack and Simmonds went over from a driving maul against 14 men.

Francois van Vyk followed Foden off the pitch as Exeter tightened their grip and Waldrom scored a try from a metre out.

Reinach responded with a try from a rare Northampton foray into the Chiefs 22, but Yeandle edged over in the final move of the match to seal the bonus point.

Exeter forwards coach Rob Hunter said:

"It is really pleasing to perform well on the back of two losses, and it is learning those lessons and transferring them back into the Premiership that matters.

"We have always been a good learning side and I think it is really important that we continue to learn and don't sit back and think everything is rosy.

"We choked them up front at scrum and line-out, especially. Again, the lads did their homework really well, with Sam Skinner running the forwards and with the impact players coming off the bench."

Northampton interim head coach Alan Dickens said:

"We were in it at half-time and up to 50 or 55 minutes. Exeter squeezed us and got field position and capitalised.

"We made mistakes and it puts the pressure back on us. We lost a couple of line-outs in important positions of the pitch.

"Tries and yellow cards were the issue for us in that second half. At important periods of the game, we did not apply pressure on Exeter."

Northampton: Mallinder; Tuala, Horne, Burrell, Foden; Francis, Groom; Ma'afu, Hartley (capt), Ford-Robinson, Paterson, Ratuniyarawa, Lawes, Gibson, Harrison

Replacements: Haywood, van Wyk, Hill, Ribbans, Wood, Reinach, Stephenson, Pisi

Exeter: Slade; Nowell, Whitten, Hill, Woodburn; Gareth Steenson (capt), Chudley; Moon, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Skinner, Hill, Ewers, Armand, S Simmonds

Replacements: Yeandle, Rimmer, Holmes, Lees, Waldrom, Townsend, J Simmonds, Short


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