Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
SaintsConference & EventsFoundationStore

Saints 14 Exeter Chiefs 35: Saints slip to Xmas defeat

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Northampton Saints were not able to overcome Aviva Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs at Franklin’s Gardens, as they went down 35-14 despite an improved defensive display.

The hosts gave as good as they got in the first half, with Ahsee Tuala crossing off the back of a fine lineout move and Piers Francis converting to make it 11-7 at the break, with Saints unlucky not to go in ahead after heavy pressure on the Chiefs line at the end of the half.

But Exeter’s strength up front paid dividends after half-time, with the visitors running in three second-half tries to earn a bonus point – although Saints' replacement scrum-half Cobus Reinach did snipe through for a consolation score.

The game began with thunderous tackles flying in left, right and centre with Saints initially defending well, only to concede a penalty at the breakdown and allow Exeter fly-half Gareth Steenson to open the scoring from the tee.

Saints’ response was almost perfect, with Api Ratuniyarawa and Harry Mallinder making fantastic breaks, but Chiefs held their nerve and came away unscathed before punishing Northampton on the break.

Will Chudley gathered his own chip over the top off the back of a scrum to score a fantastic solo try for Chiefs, who then nearly doubled their score moments later, only for Mallinder to nudge Olly Woodburn into touch just inches from the line.

Tuala then hit back and scored the first try of the afternoon for Saints, as a well-worked backs move left Exeter short of defence and now only 8-7 ahead after an intense first 20 minutes.

But Chiefs kicked their second penalty to extend their lead entering the last few minutes of the first half, and despite late pressure before the whistle, Saints could not close the gap any further.

Exeter got straight back to scoring after the break, with Steenson slotting his third penalty of the match after just three second-half minutes.

And the Chiefs’ forwards began mounting pressure deep in Saints territory, with Ben Foden seeing yellow for after persistent infringements, leaving Saints down to 14 with 20 minutes still to go.

Sam Simmonds then popped out of the maul and crossed the line to push the champions 21-7 ahead with time running out for the Saints, and no sooner had Foden returned from the sin-bin than Francois van Wyk also saw yellow with Northampton’s scrum under pressure.

Several reset scrums later, Thomas Waldrom made it three tries for the Devon side from close range, although Reinach then gave Saints hope of a comeback after dancing through the Exeter defence to dash for the line.

Francis was quick to take the conversion with the hosts sniffing a losing bonus point, but with the last play of the game it was Exeter who secured the extras, Jack Yeandle stretching for the line to score the Chiefs’ fourth.

SAINTS: Mallinder; Tuala, Horne, Burrell, Foden; Francis, Groom; Ma’afu, Hartley (capt), Ford-Robinson, Paterson, Ratuniyarawa, Lawes, Gibson, Harrison

Replacements: Haywood, van Wyk, Hill, Ribbans, Wood, Reinach, Stephenson, Pisi

CHIEFS: Slade; Nowell, Whitten, Hill, Woodburn; Steenson (capt), Chudley; Moon, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Skinner, Hill, Ewers, Armand, Simmonds

Replacements: Yeandle, Rimmer, Holmes, Lees, Waldrom, Townsend, Simmonds, Short

7’ CHIEFS Penalty Steenson 0-3
13’ CHIEFS Try Chudley 0-8
20’ SAINTS Try Tuala, Conversion Francis 7-8
32’ CHIEFS Penalty Steenson 7-11
HALF TIME Saints 7-11 Chiefs
43’ CHIEFS Penalty Steenson 7-14
60’ CHIEFS Try Simmonds, Conversion Steenson 7-21
74’ CHIEFS Try Waldrom, Conversion Steenson 7-28
77’ SAINTS Try Reinach, Conversion Francis 14-28
80’ CHIEFS Try Hill, Conversion Slade 14-35
FULL TIME Saints 14-35 Chiefs


Northampton Saints vs Exeter Chiefs

Match Details

FT ScoreFull Time Score

Saints 14-35 Exeter Chiefs




Tom Foley

Northampton Saints
Northampton Saints


Full Time

Exeter Chiefs
Exeter Chiefs

Starting LineupNorthampton Saints


Rob Horne


Luther Burrell


Ben Foden


Nic Groom


Campese Ma'afu


Dylan Hartley


Jamal Ford-Robinson


Michael Paterson


Jamie Gibson

SubsNorthampton Saints

Opposition LineupExeter Chiefs

Henry Slade
Jack Nowell
Ian Whitten
Sam Hill
Olly Woodburn
Gareth Steenson
Will Chudley
Ben Moon
Luke Cowan-Dickie
Harry Williams
Sam Skinner
Jonny Hill
Dave Ewers
Don Armand
Sam Simmonds

SubsExeter Chiefs

Jack Yeandle
Carl Rimmer
Greg Holmes
Mitch Lees
Thomas Waldrom
Stuart Townsend
Joe Simmonds
James Short

Saints name team for Exeter Chiefs visit

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Northampton Saints’ interim head coach Alan Dickens has made five changes to his starting line-up for this weekend’s festive clash against Exeter Chiefs.

Dickens’ side host the defending champions in the Aviva Premiership at a sold-out Franklin’s Gardens, kick off 3pm, looking to get back to winning ways in their last game on home soil in 2017.

After being rested for last week’s defeat to the Ospreys, Courtney Lawes comes back into the Saints pack at blindside flanker, with Jamie Gibson shifting into the openside berth and Teimana Harrison again named at No 8.

Michael Paterson is joined in the engine room by Api Ratuniyarawa, the 31-year-old Fijian behemoth rewarded for an excellent showing in the Wanderers’ Monday triumph over Leicester Tigers with his first start since October.

Saints skipper Dylan Hartley has recovered from illness and will pack down at hooker with Campese Ma’afu the other change in the front row – Mikey Haywood and Francois van Wyk moving to the bench.

And Luther Burrell returns to the Saints midfield to partner Rob Horne after making a significant impact from the bench last time out in the only change to Dickens’ back line.

It will be the interim head coach’s first game at Franklin’s Gardens since he took charge of the squad, and with league leaders Exeter in town, the 41-year-old is hoping a 15,000-strong crowd can inspire his charges.

“Exeter pose a big challenge for us as the defending champions, but this is a great opportunity here at the Gardens,” he said.

“If we can implement what we’ve been working on during the week and stick together, I’m very confident. I’ve tried to freshen things up and with this game being a sell-out, we are working hard to produce a great performance on the pitch on Saturday.”

Tickets are still available for the Gloucester match at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday 6th January, starting from £28 (adults) and £12 (juniors). Visit  to book online or call the Saints Ticket Office on 01604 581000.

Aviva Premiership Rugby, Round 11
Franklin’s Gardens
Saturday 23 December, 2017
Kick-off: 3.00pm  


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. Dylan Hartley (capt)
3. Jamal Ford-Robinson
4. Michael Paterson
5. Api Ratuniyarawa
6. Courtney Lawes
7. Jamie Gibson
8. Teimana Harrison 

16. Mikey Haywood
17. Francois van Wyk
18. Paul Hill
19. David Ribbans
20. Tom Wood
21. Cobus Reinach
22. Tom Stephenson
23. Ken Pisi


15. Henry Slade
14. Jack Nowell
13. Ian Whitten
12. Sam Hill
11. Olly Woodburn
10. Gareth Steenson (capt)
9. Will Chudley

1. Ben Moon
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie
3. Harry Williams
4. Sam Skinner
5. Jonny Hill
6. Dave Ewers
7. Don Armand
8. Sam Simmonds

16. Jack Yeandle
17. Carl Rimmer
18. Greg Holmes
19. Mitch Lees
20. Thomas Waldrom
21. Stuart Townsend
22. Joe Simmonds
23. James Short

Injury update:
Kieran Brookes (hand), Tom Collins (foot), George North (knee), Alex Waller (arm), and Stephen Myler (calf) are unavailable for selection.

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



Last match

Lost to Bath 24-30

Past meeting

Lost 26-29
Full Time
Northampton Saints
Northampton Saints
Exeter Chiefs
Exeter Chiefs
Sign Up for Saints