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Exeter Chiefs 31 Saints 30: Fearless Saints cruelly denied at the death

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Northampton Saints went down by the tightest of margins at the home of Exeter Chiefs, as a last-minute score from the defending Aviva Premiership champions snatched away a victory.

Saints held a narrow but deserved 17-14 lead at the break at Sandy Park, Stephen Myler’s long-range penalty the difference as Rob Horne and Ben Foden both crossed the whitewash.

And the visitors had stretched that lead to 30-17 with ten minutes remaining thanks to Harry Mallinder’s early second-half try and two more penalties from the boot of Piers Francis.

But the Chiefs had the last word as first Don Armand finished off a searing break before Thomas Waldrom pierced the wall of Saints bodies with the clock ticking into the red to steal the win.

It was a scrappy opening to the game from both sides, but Saints came alive in the seventh minute as Luther Burrell and Jamie Gibson combined brilliantly to send Rob Horne through down the short side.

Francis’ conversion was sweetly struck but Exeter hit back shortly after, advancing up the field from kick-off and eventually the hosts kicked into the corner with Saints pinged at the breakdown.

And from there the rolling-maul specialists pushed the visitors back towards their own line, and while Saints eventually stopped Chiefs in their tracks, referee Christophe Ridley adjusted it was done illegally and awarded a penalty try.

Campese Ma’afu saw yellow in the aftermath, but Saints defended heroically for the next ten minutes with Francis and Gibson combining to hold up Luke Cowan-Dickie after the hooker barged his way over the whitewash.

A massive scrum against the head from Saints on their own five-metre line prompted huge celebrations, and with the momentum swinging the way of the 14-man side, they won a penalty just inside the Exeter half.

With the wind at his back, replacement Stephen Myler – on for Francis who was undergoing an HIA – stroked over his kick to put Saints back in front.

Ahsee Tuala and Nic Groom then made big gains as space opened up down the right-hand side, but resilient Exeter defence kept them at bay and it was the hosts who scored next.

Exeter built the phases, Jonny Hill made a key break and Alec Hepburn burrowed his way over the whitewash – with Ridley awarding the try via the TMO.

But there was an immediate response from Saints; Harry Mallinder did well to keep ball in play, before a brilliant break from Burrell saw him find Horne to his left, and Foden was there to run it in from the 22 into the left corner.

Francis’ touchline conversion made it 17-14 at the break – a lead Saints richly deserved.

And Northampton came roaring out of the blocks after the break, with a piece of brilliance from Francis. His show-and-go and offload out the back left Horne with only Lachie Turner to beat, and he safely found Mallinder who was there in support to finish under the posts.

Steenson elected to make it a one-score game with a 52nd-minute penalty with Saints coming under some pressure from the hosts, but Francis responded with two quick-fire three pointers as Northampton forced Exeter errors at the breakdown and entered the final 15 minutes leading 30-17.

But Exeter showed why they are defending Aviva Premiership champions to set up a grandstand finish when Armand finished off a sweeping move under the posts to reduce the deficit to six.

And despite some heroic defending from Saints, they found themselves five metres out from their own line again with seconds remaining, and Waldrom found the gap to strike the killer blow.

Joe Simmonds made no mistake with the conversion from right in front, meaning Saints left Sandy Park with just a losing bonus point to show for a superb effort.

TIMELINE
7’ SAINTS Try Horne, Conversion Francis 0-7
16’ CHIEFS Try (Penalty) 7-7
26’ SAINTS Penalty Myler 7-10
34’ CHIEFS Try Hepburn, Conversion Steenson 14-10
37’ SAINTS Try Foden, Conversion Francis 14-17
HALF-TIME Chiefs 14 – 17 Saints
42’ SAINTS Try Mallinder, Conversion Francis 14-24
51’ CHIEFS Penalty Steenson 17-24
53’ SAINTS Penalty Francis 17-27
58’ SAINTS Penalty Francis 17-30
70’ CHIEFS Try Armand, Conversion Simmonds 24-30
80’ CHIEFS Try Waldrom, Conversion Simmonds 31-30
FULL-TIME Chiefs 31 – 30 Saints

 

Match

Exeter Chiefs vs Northampton Saints

Match Details

FT ScoreFull Time Score

Exeter Chiefs 31-30 Saints

Attendance

11,466

Referee

Christophe Ridley

Exeter Chiefs
Exeter Chiefs
31

Summary

Full Time

Northampton Saints
Northampton Saints
30

Starting LineupNorthampton Saints

13

Rob Horne

12

Luther Burrell

11

Ben Foden

9

Nic Groom

1

Campese Ma'afu

3

Kieran Brookes

4

Michael Paterson

5

Christian Day

6

Jamie Gibson

7

Heinrich Brüssow

SubsNorthampton Saints

18

Jamal Ford-Robinson

21

Cobus Reinach

22

Stephen Myler

23

Nafi Tuitavake

Opposition LineupExeter Chiefs

15
Lachie Turner
14
Ian Whitten
13
Ollie Devoto
12
Sam Hill
11
Olly Woodburn
10
Gareth Steenson
9
Will Chudley
1
Alec Hepburn
2
Luke Cowan-Dickie
3
Greg Holmes
4
Sam Skinner
5
Jonny Hill
6
Don Armand
7
Julian Salvi
8
Thomas Waldrom

SubsExeter Chiefs

16
Jack Innard
17
Ben Moon
18
Marcus Street
19
Mitch Lees
20
Matt Kvesic
21
Stuart Townsend
22
Joe Simmonds
23
Phil Dollman
Rugby

Two Saints changes for trip to Exeter Chiefs

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Harry Mallinder and David Ribbans both come back into Northampton Saints’ starting line-up this Saturday, as the men in Black, Green and Gold travel to Exeter Chiefs.

The Saints make just the two changes for the trip to Sandy Park to take on the reigning Aviva Premiership champions, after coming from behind to beat London Irish last weekend.

Harry Mallinder lines up at fullback for the first time since December, having worn the No.10 jersey on his last three starts for Saints.

The 21-year-old was released by England earlier in the week after training with Eddie Jones’ Red Rose squad during their preparations to take on Scotland.

David Ribbans comes into the engine room to join skipper Christian Day in the only other change to Saints’ starting XV, with the front row of Campese Ma’afu, Mikey Haywood, Kieran Brookes lining up together again.

Heinrich Brüssow makes his first appearance away from home in the Black, Green and Gold – with the in-form Jamie Gibson and last week’s man-of-the-match Teimana Harrison making up the rest of the back row.

Piers Francis and Nic Groom remain in the half-back berths, while Ahsee Tuala switches to the wing with George North away on Wales international duty.

And Michael Paterson is the only change to the replacements for Saints as technical coaching consultant Alan Gaffney and interim head coach Alan Dickens stick with largely the same formula that came good against Irish at Franklin’s Gardens.

“Exeter are a team that you know will play and play, looking after the ball more than other teams, and they will always try to have the most possession,” said Dickens.

“They have a great squad and Sandy Park is a tough place to go. I know this week will be no different – we’ve already been there once this season in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

“But there were a lot of positive signs when we played them back in December at Franklin’s Gardens, so it’s a challenge that we are looking forward to.”

Tickets are now available for Saints home clash with Sale Sharks on Saturday 3 March from the ticket office at Franklin’s Gardens, online by CLICKING HERE or by calling the Saints Ticket Office on 01604 581000.

EXETER CHIEFS v SAINTS TEAM NEWS
Aviva Premiership Rugby, Round 16
Sandy Park
Saturday 24th February, 2018
Kick-off: 2pm 

EXETER CHIEFS SAINTS

15 Lachie Turner
14 Ian Whitten
13 Ollie Devoto
12 Sam Hill
11 Olly Woodburn
10 Gareth Steenson (capt)
9 Will Chudley

1 Alec Hepburn
2 Luke Cowan-Dickie
3 Greg Holmes
4 Sam Skinner
5 Jonny Hill
6 Don Armand
7 Julian Salvi
8 Thomas Waldrom

Replacements:
16 Jack Innard
17 Ben Moon
18 Marcus Street
19 Mitch Lees
20 Matt Kvesic
21 Stu Townsend
22 Joe Simmonds
23 Phil Dollman

 

15 Harry Mallinder
14 Ahsee Tuala
13 Rob Horne
12 Luther Burrell
11 Ben Foden
10 Piers Francis
9 Nic Groom 

1 Campese Ma’afu
2 Mikey Haywood
3 Kieran Brookes
4 David Ribbans
5 Christian Day (capt)
6 Jamie Gibson
7 Heinrich Brüssow
8 Teimana Harrison 

Replacements:
16 Reece Marshall
17 Francois van Wyk
18 Jamal Ford-Robinson
19 Michael Paterson
20 Tom Wood
21 Cobus Reinach
22 Stephen Myler
23 Nafi Tuitavake

Injury update:

Alex Waller, James Craig and Api Ratuniyarawa are unavailable for selection

Rugby

Late change to Saints line-up against Exeter

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Northampton Saints have made one late change to their side that takes on Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park this afternoon, kick-off 2pm.

Michael Paterson comes into the second row for the visitors, with David Ribbans a late withdrawal.

The South African lock failed a late fitness test and the switch means Alex Moon joins the replacements for Saints.

Saints team to play Exeter Chiefs:
15 Harry Mallinder
14 Ahsee Tuala
13 Rob Horne
12 Luther Burrell
11 Ben Foden
10 Piers Francis
9 Nic Groom 

1 Campese Ma’afu
2 Mikey Haywood
3 Kieran Brookes
4 Michael Paterson
5 Christian Day (capt)
6 Jamie Gibson
7 Heinrich Brüssow
8 Teimana Harrison 

Replacements:
16 Reece Marshall
17 Francois van Wyk
18 Jamal Ford-Robinson
19 Alex Moon
20 Tom Wood
21 Cobus Reinach
22 Stephen Myler
23 Nafi Tuitavake

posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
1
Exeter Chiefs
Exeter ChiefsEXE221705618354264794213485
9
Northampton Saints
Northampton SaintsNOR228014509645-13664805643
Form Guide

Form

LLLLL

Last match

Lost to Harlequins 29-49

Past meeting

Lost 15-38
Full Time
Exeter Chiefs
Exeter Chiefs
31
Northampton Saints
Northampton Saints
30