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SAINTS 38 EXETER 11: As it happened

San Dickinson was a deserved Travis Perkins man of the match © Getty Images

Rugby News, Match Report SAINTS 38 EXETER 11: As it happened

All the action as the Saints opened their 2013/14 Aviva Premiership account with a bonus point win over Exeter.

PREAMBLE Conditions at Franklin’s Gardens are a far cry from those which accompanied the start of the Aviva Premiership in Newcastle on Friday night. Both the Saints and Exeter have a reputation for putting the ball through the hands, and with a dry pitch and clear skies we could be in for a cracker! Exeter are welcomed by their vocal band of travelling supporters, but as the music goes down the Saints Nation cranks up the volume in the stands as Dylan Hartley leads out the home team.

2mins A real statement of intent as Stephen Myler sends a kickable penalty to the corner. Saints go through the phases, Sam Dickinson comes within a couple of metres on the far side and when the ball comes back Luther Burrell sends a long pass to Dylan Hartley for the try. Stephen Myler lands the conversion from the touchline. SAINTS 7 EXETER 0

5mins Exeter show plenty of ambition themselves, bringing in their own big Welsh winger, Tom James, into the action early. Gareth Steenson sends a long pass wide, but the final ball dribbles into touch for a home lineout. Exeter bring off Dean Mumm for Tom Hayes. SAINTS 7 EXETER 0

8mins Our first scrum, and it’s an Exeter put-in just inside their own half. No collapses yet, but there have been a couple of re-sets. At the third attempt Tom Mercey is penalised for bringing the set piece down; Steenson kicks to the home 22. SAINTS 7 EXETER 0

11mins After the Chiefs pack makes ground with a maul James makes a defence-bursting run to take the visitors within touching distance of the whitewash. But Phil Dowson is yellow carded for deliberate offside at the ruck and Steenson lands the three points. SAINTS 7 EXETER 3

14mins Saints win a turnover deep in Exeter’s half and send the forwards repeatedly up the channel between the 15-metre and side lines. Dickinson and Courtney Lawes both carry several times and Exeter eventually try to kill the ball, conceding a penalty. Myler lands the kick, while Mumm returns from the blood bin for the Chiefs. SAINTS 10 EXETER 3

16mins A first carry for George North, put away by Christian Day. North is tackled into touch, but not before making a good 60 metres. The Gardens comes to life once again! SAINTS 10 EXETER 3

18mins What a try from the Saints!! It all comes from an overthrown Exeter lineout that Dickinson sweeps up. The number eight charges into midfield, creating an overlap, and when Burrell goes through the gap the centre takes Saints over halfway. A lovely pass to Ken Pisi comes next and the Samoan does superbly to score in the corner. Myler’s conversion is top class, too. SAINTS 17 EXETER 3

21mins Dowson returns from the sin bin. SAINTS 17 EXETER 3

23mins A third try for the Saints, and while the previous two were created superbly this one owed a bit to Lady Luck. Ben Foden sends a Garryowen skywards, and when Phil Dollman fails to deal with it the Saints’ full back collects the bouncing ball. James recovers to tackle, but Tom Wood is there in support to stroll over by the uprights. Myler converts. SAINTS 24 EXETER 3

26mins Saints’ first put in, and although the pack get a nudge on to create space for Dickinson to go down the blindside Johnson makes a powerful tackle into touch. SAINTS 24 EXETER 3

29mins Luck goes for and then against the Saints in quick succession. Dollman’s long kick was straight into touch after the Chiefs took the ball back into the 22, giving Saints a lineout in a great position, but just as North feeds Burrell referee JP Doyle’s arm is raised the other way, George Pisi penalised for crossing. SAINTS 24 EXETER 3

32mins Exeter go through the phases from the lineout, and although Saints’ defence holds firm the hosts are penalised at a ruck midway inside their own 22. Steenson lands the three points. SAINTS 24 EXETER 6

35mins Both sides have been showing intent, but it’s the Saints who go over the whitewash next. A quick lineout deep in their half goes to Ken Pisi, who cuts through several forwards to put Dowson away. North has a cracking run down the left, and when play comes right Lawes shows lovely skill and timing with a soft pass to George Pisi to go over. Mr Doyle refers it to the TMO and eventually the try is confirmed. Myler maintains his 100 percent record from the touchline. SAINTS 31 EXETER 6

HALF-TIME SAINTS 31 EXETER 6 Saints get a standing ovation as they come off the field, leading by 25 points and with a try-scoring bonus point in the bag. They have been irrepressible at times in the past 40 minutes, putting the ball through the hands regularly and playing with an intensity that Exeter haven’t been able to match. The tries have been from the top drawer, and even though the screen isn’t working (for reasons outside the club’s control) the thousands at the Gardens will no doubt be glued to Sunday night’s Aviva Premiership highlights show on ITV4!

43mins Exeter get an early opportunity when Mercey is penalised at a breakdown, with Steenson kicking for a lineout deep in the home 22. But outstanding work from Dowson wins a turnover and Myler clears to the 10-metre line. SAINTS 31 EXETER 6

46mins Saints have been defending well, but Exeter have had the majority of the ball and territory in this half, helped by some penalties conceded by the Saints. The latest of these is for a high tackle from Lawes on Matt Jess, and after a referral to the TMO the lock is sent to the sin bin. SAINTS 31 EXETER 6

48mins Another penalty conceded by Saints, but this latest one was somewhat harsh, North being marginally in front of Dickson when the scrum-half recovered his own box kick. Steenson misses touch, but so does Foden with the clearance and Exeter continue to ask questions of the home defence. SAINTS 31 EXETER 6

50mins Exeter subs – Henry Slade and Ben White on for Steenson and James Scaysbrook respectively. They come on with their side camped on the home try line, but Dowson wins another turnover and George Pisi clears to halfway. SAINTS 31 EXETER 6

53mins Exeter change their front row – Brett Stugess, Yeandle and Hoani Tui replaced respectively by Ben Moon, Chris Whitehead and Carl Rimmer. Meanwhile Haydn Thomas makes a neat dart from a scrum down the blindside, but finds a 6’5” Welshman too tall to chip over. SAINTS 31 EXETER 6

55mins Saints make some subs – Samu Manoa and Kahn Fotuali’i (for his debut) coming on for Wood and Dickson, who’s just made a try saving tackle on opposite number, Thomas. Exeter replace Thomas with Dave Lewis and Jason Shoemark with Sam Hill. Play re-starts with an Exeter scrum five metres out from the home line. SAINTS 31 EXETER 6

57mins Lawes’ sin bin sit down is over, but it’s Calum Clark who comes on. Mike Haywood replaces Haywood. Saints’ defence remains resolute, but it’s still Exeter who are pressing with another five-metre scrum. SAINTS 31 EXETER 6

60mins Mr Doyle goes to the TMO once again as Mumm wriggles his way over. Saints have done superbly to hold out this long as Exeter have been camped in the home half for just about all of this half so far. Eventually the try is awarded, but Slade misses the conversion. Saints ring the changes ahead of the re-start, James Wilson, Alex Waller and Gareth Denman (another debutant) on for George Pisi, Corbisiero and Mercey respectively. SAINTS 31 EXETER 11

62mins Saints have been playing so much in their own half it’s understandable to see Myler employ his kicking game. The chase is good, too, and when Hill fumbles 12 metres inside his own territory Saints have their first decent opportunity of the half so far. SAINTS 31 EXETER 11

65mins Exeter replace Damian Welch with Hayes. He comes on as Slade kicks the Chiefs into the home half, Saints being penalised for coming into the side of their own ruck on the visitors’ 22. But the Chiefs’ lineout woes continue, this throw not going straight for a home scrum. SAINTS 31 EXETER 11

69mins Even when Saints get a chance to play they fumble, this time North in a tackle. Exeter nearly hand Ken Pisi a chance on the far side when a pass hits the deck, but we come back for the scrum midway between the home 10 and 22-metre lines. SAINTS 31 EXETER 11

70mins How unlucky was that?! Saints break clear with good hands from Myler, Burrell, Wilson and Haywood. North makes another run, but Haywood juggles the inside pass when it comes and it eventually hits the deck 10 metres downfield. Meanwhile Saints make their final substitution, Jamie Elliott on for Ken Pisi. SAINTS 31 EXETER 11

72mins After spending the last 32 minutes on the back foot Saints make the most of their first visit to the visitors’ 22 by coming away with seven points from a Manoa try and Myler conversion. This time it was pack power that got the score from a rolling maul, and with a few minutes to play the win is sealed. SAINTS 38 EXETER 11

80mins Saints may have scored but it’s Exeter who retain the possession and pressure. But again the black, green and gold line holds, a turnover is won and Myler kicks to touch to bring the final whistle. SAINTS 38 EXETER 11

FULL-TIME SAINTS 38 EXETER 11 That was the quintessential game of two halves. In the first 40 minutes the Saints were superb with ball in hand, getting four tries and securing the bonus point. But after the break it was the defence that secured the win, holding Exeter out time and again, save for the one try just past the hour. So there’s plenty to build on ahead of next Friday’s trip to Harlequins. Join us then for more of the Saints Nation in 2013/14!

TIMELINE
2mins SAINTS Try Hartley Con Myler 7-0
11mins SAINTS Yellow card Dowson
11mins EXETER Pen Steenson 7-3
14mins SAINTS Pen Myler 10-3
18mins SAINTS Try K Pisi Con Myler 17-3
22mins SAINTS Try Wood Con Myler 24-3
32mins EXETER Pen Steenson 24-6
37mins SAINTS Try G Pisi Con Myler 31-6
HALF-TIME SAINTS 31 EXETER 6
46mins SAINTS Yellow card Lawes
59mins EXETER Try Mumm 31-11
72mins SAINTS Try Manoa Con Myler 38-11
FULL-TIME SAINTS 38 EXETER 11

TEAMS
Saints – Foden: K Pisi, G Pisi, Burrell, North; Myler, Dickson; Corbisiero, Hartley (capt), Mercey, Lawes, Day, Wood, Dowson, Dickinson

Reps – Haywood, A Waller, Denman, Manoa, Clark, Fotuali’i, Wilson, Elliott

Exeter – Dollman; Jess, Whitten, Shoemark, James; Steenson, Thomas; Sturgess, Yeandle, Tui, Mumm (capt), Welch, Johnson, Scaysbrook, Ewers

Reps – Whitehead, Moon, Rimmer, Hayes, White, Lewis, Slade, Hill

Referee – JP Doyle

Travis Perkins Man of the Match – Sam Dickinson

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