Match Centre: Gallagher Premiership: Northampton 34-19 Exeter Chiefs

Tommy Freeman was one of the try-scorer for Northampton
Tommy Freeman was one of the try-scorer for Northampton

Northampton 34-19 Exeter Chiefs, cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens

Northampton Saints managed to overcome a 14-man Exeter Chiefs side as they sealed a 34-19 victory in the fifth round of the Gallagher Premiership at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens on Sunday.

This is third consecutive win for Northampton in five games as they move to the fourth place in the table while Exeter Chiefs are at fifth position after suffering their 10th successive Premiership defeat away from Sandy Park.

The Saints got off to a brisk start as Fin Smith sent a perfect grubber kick for Tommy Freeman to touchdown on what was his 28th Premiership try. Smith followed with the conversion and kicked a long-range penalty by the 17th minute as the hosts raced to a 10-0 lead by the end of the opening quarter.

The Saints extended the gap further as Chiefs were penalised for offside following which Northampton set up an attacking maul following which Curtis Langdon dotted down and Smith was once again spot on with the conversion as they scored 17 unanswered points.

The first response from the Chiefs came in the 32nd minute as Jacques Vermeulen dived in the corner but Henry Slade missed out on the conversion as the teams completed the opening half with a 17-5 scoreline.

The start of the second half saw Smith kicking through the uprights to make it 20-5 before Sam Matavesi and Freeman combined to send Alex Mitchell over the line. Smith kicked the conversion as the Saints extended the lead to 27-5 before Scott Sio dived from close range to reduce the arrears to 15 points.

With 12 minutes left in the game, Exeter saw Niall Armstrong red-carded for making contact with Smith’s face with his boot and the Saints capitalised on the numerical advantage with Fraser Dingwall diving under the posts and the fly-half improved to make it 34-12. Ethan Roots scored a consolation try for the Chiefs but Northampton went on to complete a 15-point victory.

Team line up:

Northampton: Hendy; Freeman, Dingwall (capt), Hutchinson, Seabrook; Smith, Mitchell; A Waller, Langdon, Hill, Moon, Munga, Lawes, Scott-Young, Graham.

Reserves: Matavesi, E Waller, Davison, Coles, Pearson, James, Litchfield, Sleightholme.

Exeter: Wyatt; Feyi-Waboso, Slade, Hawkins, Hammersley; Skinner, Cairns; Abuladze, Frost, Iosefa-Scot, Jenkins (capt), Pearson, Roots, Vermeulen, Vintcent.

Reserves: Yeandle, Sio, Painter, Tuima, Davis, Armstrong, Haydon-Wood, Hendrickson

Widely regarded as the most competitive rugby union league in the can only be the Gallagher Premiership.

The division is becoming more and more exciting as each year passes by so who will be lifting silverware at Twickenham in May?

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