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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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|Friday 13th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|19:45||Northampton vs London Irish|
|Saturday 14th February|
|16:30||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 15th February|
|13:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|Friday 20th February|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Wasps|
|Saturday 21st February|
|14:00||Sale vs Saracens|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Exeter|
|15:00||Gloucester vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Bath vs Northampton|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|14:00||London Irish vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Sale|
|19:45||Northampton vs Harlequins|
|Saturday 28th February|
|14:30||London Welsh vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Newcastle|
|15:15||Exeter vs Bath|
|Sunday 1st March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Gloucester|
|Friday 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Northampton|
|Sunday 8th March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Sunday 11th January|
|London Irish 28 - 26 Exeter|
|Newcastle 38 - 7 London Welsh|
|Saturday 10th January|
|Harlequins 32 - 12 Leicester|
|Bath 39 - 26 Wasps|
|Sale Sharks 20 - 7 Northampton|
|Friday 9th January|
|Gloucester 24 - 23 Saracens|
|Sunday 4th January|
|London Welsh 13 - 24 Harlequins|
|Wasps 41 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Leicester 17 - 8 Bath|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|Exeter 25 - 26 Gloucester|
|Saracens 22 - 6 London Irish|
|Friday 2nd January|
|Northampton 39 - 31 Newcastle|
|Sunday 28th December|
|Gloucester 23 - 30 Wasps|
|Saturday 27th December|
|Harlequins 25 - 30 Northampton|
|Newcastle 23 - 25 Saracens|
|Bath 31 - 14 Exeter|
|Sale Sharks 30 - 32 Leicester|
|Friday 26th December|
|London Irish 24 - 9 London Welsh|
|Sunday 21st December|
|Wasps 48 - 16 London Irish|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale 18 - 11 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com