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Match Report: Exeter Chiefs 31-30 Northampton Saints

24 Feb 2018
Match Report: Exeter Chiefs 31-30 Northampton Saints

Late tries from Don Armand and Thomas Waldrom gave Exeter Chiefs a rousing comeback win over Northampton Saints.

The defending champions fought back from 13 points behind with 10 minutes to play to avoid a fourth successive Premiership defeat, but were made to work by Saints who put on an excellent attacking display.

Tries from Rob Horne, Ben Foden and Harry Mallinder looked to have been enough for the visitors before Exeter capitalised on Teimana Harrison being sin-binned and struck in added time.

Northampton made an encouraging start to the game, with Jamie Gibson showing good hands to allow Horne to cross for his fifth Premiership try of the season.

Exeter won a penalty within range a few minutes later, but Gareth Steenson opted to kick for the corner rather than at goal as the Chiefs looked to hit back with a try.

It proved to be a good decision, as referee Christophe Ridley awarded the home side a penalty try after Campese Ma’afu had collapsed the rolling maul, earning a yellow card for his troubles.

Exeter then looked to push on and apart from a promising break from Nic Grom and a Piers Francis penalty, the home side enjoyed much of the territory.

They took the lead through Alec Hepburn, but it did not last long as Foden showed good speed to finish in the corner after a great break from inside his own half by Luther Burrel.

The Saints continued their display of excellent attacking rugby after the break as Mallinder latched on to Horne’s pass to take Northampton’s lead to 10 points.

Steenson and Francis traded penalties to keep the scoreboard ticking over, but a series of handling errors thwarted the defending champions from making the most of their attacking opportunities.

Armand showed the finishing skills of a seasoned winger with a brilliant sidestep to beat his man after Olly Woodburn’s break on 71 minutes.

With the clock ticking past 80 minutes, Exeter went through the phases after a succession of lineouts and Waldrom muscled his way over to score, with Joe Simmonds adding the winning conversion.