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EXETER 16 SAINTS 17 As it happened

Sam Dickinson takes the ball on against the Chiefs © Getty Images

Match Report EXETER 16 SAINTS 17 As it happened

All the action from the Saints' late, late show against Exeter at a wet, wild and windy Sandy Park.

KO
Gareth Steenson gets the action underway, with the Saints playing from left to right as we watch and into the wind.
EXETER 0 SAINTS 0

1min
This first minute told us a lot about the wind. James Wilson marks, and his clearance kick is blown from several metres infield into touch. Then Jack Yeandle's first lineout starts off straight but ends up a metre towards the the Saints' line for possession to the visitors
EXETER 0 SAINTS 0

3mins
Saints mount the first serious attack, Ken Pisi going through the middle before finding Phil Dowson in support. But Chiefs hold and win a lineout and use the quick throw to clear to halfway
EXETER 0 SAINTS 0

5mins
Saints are asking plenty of questions, this time with a powerful maul, but Exeter have the answers they need, holding the ball up and winning a scrum for their first serious bit of possession. We're right in midfield, 10 metres inside the home half, and after the first set hits the deck we stop for a bit of maintenance work on referee Greg Garner's radio set
EXETER 0 SAINTS 0

6mins
Exeter start conservatively, but it works out for them. Gareth Steenson kicks to the 22, and with Wilson near the touchline he can only make a few metres with the clearance. Chiefs have a lineout 25 metres out
EXETER 0 SAINTS 0

7mins
This time it's Saints' defence who holds. Then the visitors receive a boost when Dean Mumm is yellow carded for stamping with Stephen Myler clearing upfield from the penalty. Saints go through a couple of phases before kicking it away, and when Exeter return it Wilson touches down for a 22
EXETER 0 SAINTS 0

10mins
Exeter controlled the possession from the 22 pretty well, but couldn't make their way through the Saints' defence. Unfortunately Alex Waller is penalised for a high tackle and Steenson goes for the sticks. It's an ambitious kick in these conditions but the Irishman makes no mistake from 35 metres
EXETER 3 SAINTS 0

13mins
An exchange of kicks is won by Exeter following a Saints fumble 10 metres inside their own half. And the scrum becomes a penalty when the visitors are ruled to bring it down. Again Steenson goes for the uprights, and if he gets it this will be some spectacular kick
EXETER 3 SAINTS 0

14mins
The kick has the legs but the ball sails right of the uprights, and Myler drops out from the 22
EXETER 3 SAINTS 0

15mins
Some nice play from Saints there, forcing a fumble with a strong tackle then Jamie Elliott sending play down to the home 22 with a good kick. It's taken out by a Chief, too, and Saints have a lineout in a great position
EXETER 3 SAINTS 0

16mins
That was a great maul from the Saints pack, with some nice play up the blindside taking play to the home line. A desperate tackle wins a lineout from which Dave Lewis clears, but Elliott runs play back and when Exeter come offside Myler kicks to touch for a lineout 10 metres out
EXETER 3 SAINTS 0

18mins
A lovely try from the Saints! The pack make some hard yards, play comes right and then left, with Dom Waldouck spotting an overlap and Samu Manoa offloading to Wilson, who reaches over for the score. The conversion is as tough as it gets, but Myler does superbly to even get the kick to the post, which the ball hits. Mumm returns with the Saints in front
EXETER 3 SAINTS 5

20mins
This has been a decent opening quarter from the Saints, who deserve to be in front. Exeter also deserve their points, but some ill discipline is getting on the wrong side of Mr Garner. This time a couple of penalties allow Saints to clear their lines from their 22 for a lineout 10 metres inside home territory
EXETER 3 SAINTS 5

22mins
Saints maintain possession, but the home defence is coming off the line quickly to both push the visitors back 15 metres and force Myler into playing for territory. The ball stays in play, and after Exeter's kick finds Wilson the full back takes play back into midfield
EXETER 3 SAINTS 5

24mins
Exeter's kicking game pushes Saints back to their own 22, but there was some ambition with the passes that created the kicking opportunity, one which went just over the chasing George Pisi's hands. Sam Dickinson wins the lineout and while the maul makes good ground the ball hits the deck in the subsequent play for a Chiefs scrum 5 metres inside Saints' half
EXETER 3 SAINTS 5

26mins
A superb defensive scrum from the Saints wins a penalty, from which Myler kicks to just outside the home 22. Kahn Fotuali'i's initial pass was wayward, but in the next phase Dickinson breaks through to take Saints to 5 metres out from the line. Play is recycled and Waldouck finds Wilson - even though a Chiefs hand looked to have knocked the ball on. However the hosts win a turnover and then a penalty, from which Steenson clears 40 metres upfield
EXETER 3 SAINTS 5

30mins
Some good play all round there, firstly from the home pack in a maul, then from Fotuali'i de-fusing a box kick under pressure from Tom James, who in turn held his tackle superbly to avoid conceding a penalty. Saints retain possession, but on the far side concede a penalty when Salesi Ma'afu holds onto the ball. Meanwhile there's a stoppage in play so Christian Day can receive some treatment on the far side
EXETER 3 SAINTS 5

31mins
Not a good sight for the travellers as Day is helped off to be replaced by GJ Van Velze. Steenson goes for the uprights from 45 metres, but again sees the ball go right of the posts
EXETER 3 SAINTS 5

33mins
Another shot for Steenson, this time from 38 metres as Fotuali'i is penalised for tackling a man without the ball. This one is in front of the sticks and Exeter are back in front
EXETER 6 SAINTS 5

34mins
A first call into action for Ashley Rowden in the BT Sport trucks as Manoa powers over in the far corner. Exeter failed to control the kick off and when Saints turned the ball over they made the most of the fragmented defence. Up goes Mr Garner's arm for the American's third try in two matches and his ninth of the season. Again Myler's conversion is a hard one, and though the ball is held up in the wind the visitors go ahead again
EXETER 6 SAINTS 10

37mins
Saints will want to control the clock in these final few minutes of the first half, but when Elliott misjudges the kick off they have to do so from their own line. The pack do really well to go around the fringes for a few metres, but there's plenty of defending still to be done as the wind holds up Fotuali'i's box kick for a home lineout 20 metres out
EXETER 6 SAINTS 10

39mins
Exeter set up a maul before going out wide, but just as it looks like Saints' defenders might finally be outnumbering the attackers Steenson spots Ma'afu and tries to go around the prop. The attempted tackle is high, but Steenson shakes off the bang to add three more points to his tally
EXETER 9 SAINTS 10

40mins
Myler kicks deep and to the touchline for an Exeter lineout, and after the hosts go though a couple of phases they kick the ball dead to end the half
EXETER 9 SAINTS 10

HT
A good half of rugby there from both sides, who are trying to play rugby in challenging conditions. The scoreline is just about fair enough. Saints have broken the home defence twice, while Steenson has been on target with three of his kicks and just wide with two other long-range efforts. So far the visitors' defence has held what's been thrown at them, but Exeter have shown time and again that they have the ambition and talent to attack from deep and this game is far from over
EXETER 9 SAINTS 10

41mins
Myler gets us back underway, with neither team having made any further changes. Saints are now playing from right to left as we're looking, with the wind behind them
EXETER 9 SAINTS 10

43mins
Exeter love to attack from deep and put phases together, and this is exactly what they do at the start of the second half. It's an effective tactic that takes them from 10 metres out from their line up to halfway. A penalty is won and Van Velze sent to the sin bin, but as Exeter take a tap and go for more of the same the ball hits the deck 8 metres inside the Saints' half
EXETER 9 SAINTS 10

45mins
That scrum took a useful two minutes off the clock, and even without Van Velze there's enough power to win a penalty. Myler sends play to 30 metres out from the home line
EXETER 9 SAINTS 10

47mins
It's a promising position for the Saints, but good defensive work at the lineout wins the ball against the throw and Exeter head upfield again
EXETER 9 SAINTS 10

49mins
As they had in the opening exchanges of the half Exeter make plenty of metres and win a penalty, only to see the ball hit the deck in the next passage of play. Saints have a scrum midway inside their own half and it's an early call to action for Gareth Denman, who comes on for Ma'afu
EXETER 9 SAINTS 10

50mins
New prop, same result, as the power comes on, Dickinson controls the ball at the base until Mr Garner awards a penalty. Myler sends play 20 metres upfield
EXETER 9 SAINTS 10

52mins
Maintaining accuracy in conditions like this is always crucial, and Saints shoot themselves in the foot twice in the space of a couple of minutes. Firstly they lose another lineout on their own throw, then Wilson fires an ambitious reverse pass straight to Ian Whitten. The centre breaks clear, and while the defence scrambles back to cover Exeter maintain possession and James Scaysbrook is held up over the line. Mr Rowden has a long look and the try is not given, but there's still a penalty which is kicked to the corner
EXETER 9 SAINTS 10

53mins
Saints may be a man down but they hold the maul well. That's until Lewis spots some space to break off and dive unopposed. Steenson puts everything into the conversion, which just about makes it over the bar and Exeter have given themselves some breathing space. In truth the visitors have only themselves to blame, but with Van Velze coming back to the action they have the manpower to get the scores they need. But they've got to get their hands on the ball first
EXETER 16 SAINTS 10

56mins
Exeter are refusing to kick the ball away. This has worked in their two previous possessions, but this time the Saints' defence wins a penalty, which Myler kicks to the corner
EXETER 16 SAINTS 10

57mins
Wilson comes close to making amends for his earlier error with a strong break, but a rare mistake from Fotuali'i sees his pass go too high for Ken Pisi, rebounding off the winger's head for an Exeter scrum in the shadow of their own posts
EXETER 16 SAINTS 10

60mins
It's a good scrum from the Chiefs, and Lewis makes 20 metres with the kick. There's better to come for the hosts as Saints come through the lineout to concede a free kick, and while they kick possession away and George Pisi breaks a couple of tackles his offload hits the deck for an Exeter scrum 10 metres inside their own half
EXETER 16 SAINTS 10

61mins
The introduction of Hoani Tui has shored up the Exeter scrum no end. Again there's a good kick which pushes Saints back upfield, but Van Velze's return has seen the visitors' lineout regain its accuracy. Fotuali'i sends up a box kick, the chasers pin Exeter back and the ball goes to ground for a Saints scrum 10 metres inside home territory
EXETER 16 SAINTS 10

61mins
This third quarter has been all Exeter. They have kept their tactic of running the ball from everywhere, which by and large has paid dividend. For sure the ball has hit the deck once or twice, but those mistakes have paled compared to Wilson's error, which gave the hosts the platform from which to take control of the scoreboard
EXETER 16 SAINTS 10

64mins
As if to emphasise the previous point the Saints scrum misfires, with the ball squirting out the back and going 30 metres the other way. Saints kick, and even when Exeter cough the ball up they manage to stop the visitors making the most of a massive overlap with their rush defence. The kicking game is also pinning the visitors back, who are going to have to dig deep to get the win
EXETER 16 SAINTS 10

66mins
Some good play from the Saints pack there. The lineout is won and the maul makes first metres and then wins a penalty. Myler kicks 30 metres upfield to halfway
EXETER 16 SAINTS 10

67mins
By hook or by crook Saints somehow manage to turn that lineout into more good possession. This time it is some powerful work around the fringes that takes them 20 metres upfield, and while there's an interception from Matt Jess the winger puts his foot into touch. Meanwhile Will Hooley is on for Waldouck in the centres
EXETER 16 SAINTS 10

69mins
Ethan Waller comes on for his brother, with his first action to try and put pressure on an Exeter lineout five metres from their own line. The home defence has been in Saints' faces, and while the visitors have been controlling the ball a lot better they are having to make a lot of decisions quickly. Myler's kick was more considered, and ultimately it ends with a Saints lineout on the home 22
EXETER 16 SAINTS 10

72mins
The maul does the business once again, the power forcing Exeter into conceding a penalty. Myler kicks to the corner, and while this time the home pack holds out Saints go around the fringes and Mr Rowden is called into action once again
EXETER 16 SAINTS 10

72mins
This is the least clear cut of any of the decisions made so far, and Saints don't look too hopeful, with no one going back to halfway. And so it proves, with no try and a five-metre scrum instead
EXETER 16 SAINTS 10

74mins
Two re-sets and two penalties. Mumm gets a talking to from Mr Garner. A third scrum wheels and goes up, but another Saints put-in. The power comes on and Saints go forward, but the ball is left behind and Fotuali'i fumbles under pressure. That was a crucial passage of play there, and you get the feeling it will be decisive, too
EXETER 16 SAINTS 10

77mins
Exeter clear, but we end up back where we started thanks to a Myler grubber which forces the hosts to touch down for a five-metre scrum. A big moment for Ross McMillan, who is on for Mike Haywood at hooker
EXETER 16 SAINTS 10

78mins
Try for Saints!! The pack got a nudge on once again, but it falls apart and instead it falls to the backs to finish the job. The forwards take play to the line around the fringes before George Pisi comes onto the ball at pace to crash over. Myler converts and Saints are in front
EXETER 16 SAINTS 17

80mins
And so this is it. A fumble at the kick off hands Exeter a scrum, and they come off the back to try and put themselves into the position for a winning score. They come off the back of the scrum and go through phases left and right, looking for a gap which doesn't come. The ball goes forward, Ken Pisi hammers it into touch and that's it, the Saints are top of the Aviva Premiership table
EXETER 16 SAINTS 17

FT
During the course of any campaign you are going to get wins that are comfortable, and others which go down to the wire. This firmly fell into the latter category as the Saints left it late to get the winning try that took them to the top of the table. In the first half the Saints showed plenty of control, but the Chiefs decided to keep the ball in hand after the break and it took 20 minutes for the visitors to get any prolonged passages of play together. All in all there are plenty of positives to take home, but there will be plenty of time spent on the training paddock this week, too, ahead of next Saturday's game against Worcester.
EXETER 16 SAINTS 17

TEAMS
EXETER Arscott; Jess, Whitten, Dollman, James; Steenson, Lewis; Moon, Yeandle, Brown, Mumm (capt), Welch, Ewers, Scaysbrook, Horstmann

Replacements - Cowan-Dickie, Rimmer, Tui, Armand, Johnson, Thomas, Slade, Vainikolo

SAINTS Wilson; K Pisi, G Pisi, Waldouck, Elliott; Myler, Fotuali'i; A Waller, Haywood, Ma'afu, Manoa, C Day, Clark, Dowson (capt), Dickinson

Replacements - McMillan, E Waller, Denman, Van Velze, Nutley, A Day, Hooley, Autagavaia

REFEREE Greg Garner

ATTENDANCE 8,336

TIMELINE
7mins EXETER Yellow card Mumm
10mins EXETER Pen Steenson 3-0
14mins EXETER Miss pen Steenson
18mins SAINTS Try Wilson 3-5
31mins EXETER Miss pen Steenson
33mins EXETER Pen Steenson 6-5
34mins SAINTS Try Manoa 6-10
39mins EXETER Pen Steenson 9-10
HALF-TIME EXETER 9 SAINTS 10
43mins SAINTS Yellow card Van Velze
53mins EXETER Try Lewis Con Steenson 16-10
78mins SAINTS Try G Pisi Con Myler 16-17
FULL-TIME EXETER 16 SAINTS 17

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