Fixtures - Top Bar

Match Reaction: Exeter Chiefs 20 Northampton Saints 12

Exeter assistant coach Ali Hepher hailed his side’s ability to fightback from a half-time deficit as they overcame a spirited Northampton Saints to win 20-12 at Sandy Park.

Scores from Lee Dickson and Ken Pisi looked set to give play-off chasing Northampton Saints a crucial win but after the break it was all the Chiefs.

Gareth Steenson kicked five penalties and Olly Woodburn touched down, with England international Henry Slade particularly impressive behind the scrum.

"We looked as though we weren't enjoying our rugby in the first half as we were frightened to make mistakes," Hepher said.

"We had a quiet word at half-time and this freed us up. We created a different and 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."

Exeter surprisingly took the decision to take off top try-scoring No 8 Thomas Waldrom midway through the second half and replace him with Julian Salvi.

Hepher explained the decision, saying: "We struggled at the breakdown, Thomas wasn't injured and Julian is one of the best in that area in the Premiership."

Prior to kick-off the Chiefs had the best home record in Aviva Premiership Rugby, having picked up 32 league points from their eight fixtures at Sandy Park and they showed exactly why as they fought back from a 12-3 half-time deficit.

“We are getting towards the end of the season and picking up or losing a bonus point is crucial at this stage,” said Don Armand. “We really pulled it out today and we managed to sneak Northampton out of a losing bonus point, which is very pleasing.

“I don’t think we suffered from nerves at all during the first half, I just think errors are always going to occur when you’re going for it.

“I think it might have spilled over from last week where we had quite a few turnovers but after the break we got our minds on the job, fixed our errors and we got the crucial result.

“We haven’t been in the play-offs before and so course we’re going to get quite excited about our position presently but I think it’s different for everyone.

“There are some people at the club who have come from international sides, some guys who have come from the Championship but as a team we’re excited and it’s something new for this club.

“We have improved from last year, it’s a real challenge to finish in the top four and I think the boys are really looking up to those challenges.”

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder felt that his side had not had the rub of the green.

"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," he said.

"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 for a key game against Harlequins next week."

Exeter now face a top-of-the-table clash at Saracens next weekend with Hepher looking forward to the challenge.

"We can't afford to have a poor half against them but we did win up there last year," he said.

"We are now top but we are taking it by stage by stage. First we want to be in the top six for Europe, then top four for play-offs and then it would be great to get a home semi-final if we are in the top two. We are just attempting to knock off the targets, one by one."

Exeter Chiefs: Dollman, Woodburn, Slade, Whitten (Hill 14), Short, Steenson, Lewis (Chudley 49), Moon,(Hepburn 46), Yeandle, Williams, Atkins, Parling, Ewers, Armand, Waldrom (Salvi 53)
Replacements not used: Taione, Rimmer, Stevenson, Turner

Northampton Saints: Foden, K Pisi, G Pisi, Mallinder (Marshall 49), Tuala (Wilson 40), Hanrahan (Myler 53), Dickson (Fotuali'i 43), Waller (Waller 65), Haywood, Hill (Denman 69), Craig, Day (Matfield 69), Harrison, Gibson, Fisher (Wood 53)


Exeter Chiefs – 20
Tries: Woodburn
Penalties – Steenson 5

Northampton Saints – 12
Tries: Dickson, K Pisi
Conversions: Hanrahan

Referee: Greg Garner

Latest News

George North gets first 2017 tour try in dramatic British & Irish Lions draw

The British & Irish Lions concluded their midweek fixture list in New Zealand with a thrilling 31-31 draw against the…

Newcastle Falcons can’t wait for trip to Philadelphia

Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards believes that the second Aviva Premiership Rugby regular season match in America can…

Dean Richards

Mark Reddish retires from rugby

Harlequins second row Mark Reddish has today (Tuesday 27th June) announced that he will retire from the game due to…

Mark Reddish

Aviva Premiership Rugby stars to feature heavily in Lions final midweek game

EIGHT Aviva Premiership players will start the British & Irish Lions’ final midweek game tomorrow looking to force their way…

Teofilo Paulo excited by London Irish move but will miss home cooking

Samoan international Teofilo Paulo is making the most of his mum’s cooking ahead of the summer move to London Irish.…

British & Irish Lions beaten in first Test by New Zealand

Two second-half tries from winger Rieko Ioane helped New Zealand to a 30-15 victory in the first Test against the…

Harlequins Ladies coach savours upcoming Women’s Super Rugby season

Women’s sport is booming according to former Richmond prop and Scotland captain Karen Findlay, who is now relishing the prospect…

Aviva Tackling Numbers programme celebrated at Corporate Engagement Awards

Premiership Rugby and its Aviva Tackling Numbers programme enjoyed not one but two moments in the spotlight at the Corporate…

Corporate Engagement Awards

Lions ready for battle on eve of All Blacks Test

After months of waiting and weeks of build-up, The British & Irish Lions are ready to face the toughest challenge…

Ex-England star Susie Appleby excited to lead Gloucester-Hartpury in inaugural Women’s Super Rugby campaign

Former England international Susie Appleby believes it’s an exciting time for women’s rugby as she issues a rallying cry to…

Wasps confirm 2017/18 pre-season schedule

Wasps have today confirmed their 2017/18 pre-season schedule, which will see them face Connacht Rugby and Ulster Rugby, as well…

Wasps celebrate

Quartet sign Academy contracts with Bath Rugby

Bath Rugby is delighted to confirm that Rhys Davies, Wil Partington, Miles Reid, and Kieran Verden have all signed long-term…

Todd Blackadder

Clare Daniels hoping to inspire the next generation of female rugby referees

The first female official in Aviva Premiership Rugby history, Clare Daniels, has urged girls and women to take up officiating…

Luke McLean enthused by London Irish move

Luke McLean is looking to reignite his international career under Italy Head Coach Conor O’Shea following his summer move to…

All Black Francis Saili joins Harlequins

Harlequins is excited to confirm today (Wednesday 21st June) that All Black Francis Saili has joined the Club. Commenting on…

Francis Saili

Bath Rugby sign Phillips from Bristol Rugby

Bath Rugby is pleased to announce the signing of James Phillips, who has joined the Club from Bristol Rugby until…


Nowell gets two tries as Lions see off Chiefs in Hamilton

Exeter Chiefs’ Jack Nowell returned to his sparkling best with two tries for the British & Irish Lions in their…

Nalaga a big coup for Irish says international teammate Tikoirotuma

Explosive wing Napolioni Nalaga can be an big hit in every sense of the word during next season's Aviva Premiership…

Masi and Everard return to Wasps alongside new Academy Manager Jonathan Pendlebury

Wasps are pleased to announce a new Academy structure ahead of the 2017/18 season. The new set-up sees former Yorkshire…

The new Wasps academy coaches