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Aviva Premiership: George North helps Northampton to victory
- Aviva Premiership Preview
- Diamond delighted with win
- Robshaw relief over reprieve
- Ryan positive despite defeat
- Unhappy return for Newcastle
- Saracens secure opening bonus
- Tigers roar to winning start
- Sharks put bite on Gloucester
- Quins saved by the last post
Northampton opened their Aviva Premiership campaign in impressive fashion, overcoming two yellow cards to defeat Exeter 38-11 at Franklin's Gardens.
Dylan Hartley, Tom Wood, George and Ken Pisi and Samu Manoa all crossed for tries for the Saints - but there was to be no debut score for big-name recruit George North.
Stephen Myler slotted over all five conversion attempts and a penalty as the hosts, who also handed a debut to Alex Corbisiero in their front row, overcame spells in the sin-bin for Phil Dowson and Courtney Lawes.
Exeter's lineout was poor and they squandered chances, replying only with a Dean Mumm try just before the hour mark and two Gareth Steenson penalties.
Northampton skipper Dylan Hartley, who had offered to give up the captaincy in the summer following his red card in last season's Premiership final against Leicester, broke the deadlock after four minutes, taking Luther Burrell's looping pass and just about squeezing over out wide.
But with Brian Mujati and Paul Doran-Jones absent from Northampton's line-up, Exeter sensed a weakness up front and a rolling maul brought them under the posts where Dowson dived on the ball to kill the move.
Referee JP Doyle gave the flanker a yellow card and Steenson took the three points on offer.
However Myler quickly cancelled that penalty out and the 14 men moved further ahead when Ken Pisi finished off a fine burst by Burrell.
The home side's third try came four minutes later when Exeter full-back Phil Dollman failed to deal with an up-and-under by Ben Foden, who hacked on the loose ball and then offloaded to the supporting Wood.
Although Steenson kicked a penalty Saints secured the bonus point before the break; North blasted down his wing before quick hands switched the ball to the right wing for George Pisi to touch down.
As Northampton eased up Exeter dominated the second half and were given a helping hand on 50 minutes when Northampton saw a second man sent to the sin-bin.
After consulting the TMO Doyle sent Lawes off for 10 minutes for what was adjudged to be a dangerous tackle with his shoulder by the lock on Matt Jess.
Saints managed to keep their opponents at bay during the period, only to then allow skipper Mumm to squirm over from a scrum close to the line almost immediately after they were back to 15 on the field.
It served only to spark Northampton back into life and they added a fifth try through their forwards, Manoa on the end of a lineout drive.
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|Sunday 21st December|
|14:00||Wasps vs London Irish|
|Friday 26th December|
|15:00||London Irish vs London Welsh|
|Saturday 27th December|
|14:00||Bath vs Exeter|
|14:00||Sale vs Leicester|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Saracens|
|16:30||Harlequins vs Northampton|
|Sunday 28th December|
|14:30||Gloucester vs Wasps|
|Friday 2nd January|
|19:45||Northampton vs Newcastle Falcons|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|14:00||Saracens vs London Irish|
|16:30||Exeter vs Gloucester|
|Sunday 4th January|
|14:00||Wasps vs Sale|
|14:00||Leicester Tigers vs Bath|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Harlequins|
|Friday 9th January|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Saracens|
|Saturday 10th January|
|14:00||Sale vs Northampton|
|15:00||Bath vs Wasps|
|15:15||Harlequins vs Leicester Tigers|
|Sunday 11th January|
|14:00||Newcastle Falcons vs London Welsh|
|15:00||London Irish vs Exeter|
|Saturday 14th February|
|15:00||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|15:00||Northampton vs London Irish|
|15:00||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 15th February|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|15:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester Tigers|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle Falcons|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale Sharks 18 - 11 Exeter|
|Sunday 30th November|
|Newcastle Falcons 13 - 18 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 14 - 43 Northampton|
|London Irish 9 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 29th November|
|Exeter 27 - 19 Saracens|
|Leicester Tigers 18 - 16 Wasps|
|Friday 28th November|
|Bath 25 - 6 Harlequins|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester Tigers|
|Saracens 24 - 31 Northampton|
|Saturday 22nd November|
|London Irish 23 - 33 Bath|
|Exeter 31 - 15 Wasps|
|Friday 21st November|
|Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 Gloucester|
|Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Sunday 16th November|
|Wasps 71 - 7 London Welsh|
|Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 Saracens|
|Saturday 15th November|
|Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle Falcons|
|Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London Irish|
|Friday 14th November|
|Gloucester 15 - 22 Harlequins|
|Northampton 18 - 24 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com