Exeter hit back to beat Northampton

Exeter and Sale will play on the ultimate day of the season to resolve who has a house match within the play-offs
Northampton Saints (18) 26
Tries: Hutchinson (2), Haywood Con: Biggar Pens: Biggar (2) DG: Biggar
Exeter Chiefs: (0) 29
Tries: Skinner, Hogg, Townsend, Devoto Cons: J Simmonds (3) Pen: J Simmonds

Exeter Chiefs overturned an 18-Zero half-time deficit to clinch an important bonus-point victory at 14-man Northampton.

Saints shrugged off the 14th-minute pink card proven to David Ribbans to deservedly lead on the break via two Rory Hutchinson tries.

Exeter stormed back as Sam Skinner, Stuart Hogg and Stuart Townsend all crossed, earlier than Mikey Haywood prolonged Saints’ lead once more at 26-19.

Ollie Devoto’s attempt received Chiefs on phrases and Joe Simmonds’ kick sealed the win.

It units up a final-day showdown for a house semi-final berth, with Exeter internet hosting third-placed Sale Sharks, who will want a bonus-point win to pip the Chiefs.

An exhilarating match – the proper instance of a recreation of two halves – exploded into life within the early minutes.

Dan Biggar twice arrange Hutchinson in very completely different style – first with a intelligent delayed move from shut vary, after which with a chipped kick ahead which the centre darted on to and simply managed the landing.

But in between the 2 tries got here the flashpoint which went on to outline the match, as England hopeful Ribbans was despatched off after a assessment with the TMO adjudged he was excessive on Luke Cowan-Dickie.

Northampton’s tenacity and dominance on the breakdown continued to repay and Biggar’s penalty and drop objective prolonged the lead.

But they might not resist the waves of strain that Exeter utilized after the break, as Skinner bulldozed over and Hogg exploited the area of the additional man to cut back the deficit to 18-12.

Biggar’s penalty stored Exeter at arm’s size, and though Townsend’s attempt once more threatened Saints’ lead, Haywood responded on the hour mark, going over within the nook after nice work from Tommy Freeman.

However, Townsend created a attempt for Devoto minutes later and Joe Simmonds’ conversion introduced Exeter degree – with Simmonds holding his nerve to kick a 25-metre penalty and nudge the Chiefs forward.

Northampton forwards coach Phil Dowson instructed BBC Radio Northamptonshire:

“I think there’s a lot of exhausted players out there. The front eight worked hard to a man and I’m very impressed with their efforts.

“I assumed we managed the state of affairs properly in addition to placing in all that effort – I do not assume this aspect has ever been accused of not giving effort – however I assumed we managed the state of affairs as properly. We scored factors, we have been medical in what we have been doing and we did not give Exeter alternatives, which sadly we could not do within the second half.

“The crowd had a massive impact in generating energy and getting the boys up. We don’t like losing at home regardless of the opposition but the fact they sang at the end of the game showed they appreciated the efforts.”

Exeter boss Rob Baxter instructed BBC Radio Devon:

“The five points are the crucial thing, ultimately. I can’t say the performance was the important thing from today because the first half was one type of performance and the second was completely separate.

“Firstly you have got to congratulate Northampton. There was an amazing ambiance even with a restricted crowd right here, what’s extra vital in a manner is getting rugby back on that optimistic curve.

“We’re a good team, we’re not second in the Premiership for no reason, and we had to just reset the plan, follow it hard and physical. In the first half we didn’t do anything to plan, and that’s something the lads will have to push themselves about.”

Northampton: Freeman; Sleightholme, Proctor, Hutchinson, Naiyaravoro; Biggar, James; Waller (co-capt), Matavesi, Painter, Ribbans, Ratuniyarawa, Lawes, Ludlam (co-capt), Wood.

Replacements: Haywood, Iyogun, Heffernan, Moon, Coles, Mitchell, J Grayson, Dingwall.

Exeter: Hogg; Cordero, Slade, Whitten, O’Flaherty; J Simmonds (capt), Maunder; Moon, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Gray, Hill, S Skinner, Kirsten, S Simmonds.

Replacements: Yeandle, Hepburn, Street, Lonsdale, Capstick, Townsend, H Skinner, Devoto.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (RFU).

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