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Saints march into fourth
Exeter yield to Northampton after narrow defeat on Sunday
Northampton leapfrogged Exeter into fourth place in the Aviva Premiership thanks to a come-from-behind 18-15 victory at Sandy Park.
It means the final spot in the end of season play-offs will be decided on the last day of the regular season - Saturday, May 5 - when Saints host Worcester Warriors and Exeter are away to Saracens.
Chris Ashton and Paul Diggin scored Northampton's tries in the second-half with Stephen Myler adding a conversion and two penalties.
Exeter also crossed the line twice, scoring first and last through Gonzalo Camacho and Richard Baxter, with five points from the boot of Ignacio Mieres.
The Saints made a strong start and the visitors got the first points on the board after five minutes with fly-half Myler landing a 23-metre penalty.
But the Chiefs hit back immediately with scrum-half Haydn Thomas taking a quick tap penalty and finding Camacho.
The winger stretched for the line but referee Andrew Small referred the decision to TMO Geoff Warren, who awarded the Argentina international his second try of the season. Countryman Mieres added the extras.
Saints again applied pressure on the Chiefs but it was short-lived and the home side were quickly back up the other end to batter the visitors' line before Mieres added a simple penalty midway through the half.
Myler and Mieres were both wide of the target with penalty attempts before the Chiefs had a try turned down by the TMO after prop Ben Moon had knocked on over the line.
The Saints were 10-3 down at the break but started the second half strongly with some good passing amongst the backs helping Ashton over in the corner. Myler was again off target with the conversion, as was Mieres with a 40-metre penalty attempt.
The Chiefs struggled with their own lineouts and, with the rain making way for the sun as the game went in to the final quarter, Myler landed his second penalty to put the Saints back in the lead.
With five minutes left on the clock the visitors won a strike against the head at a 22-metre scrum, allowing wing Diggin to go over in the corner with Myler adding the extras to deny the Chiefs a losing bonus point.
But Exeter, knowing that they needed to score twice, kept battling away and were rewarded with their second try as Shoemark burst clear and Baxter picked up at the back of a scrum to score his second try of the season.
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Aviva Premiership Table
|Friday 5th September|
|19:45||Northampton vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 6th September|
|14:00||Sale vs Bath|
|14:00||Saracens vs Wasps|
|15:00||Leicester vs Newcastle|
|16:30||London Irish vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 7th September|
|14:00||London Welsh vs Exeter|
|Friday 12th September|
|19:45||Harlequins vs Saracens|
|Saturday 13th September|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Sale|
|15:00||Bath vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Exeter vs Leicester|
|Sunday 14th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Northampton|
|15:00||Newcastle vs London Irish|
|Friday 19th September|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Exeter|
|Saturday 20th September|
|14:00||Sale vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Saracens|
|15:15||Bath vs Leicester|
|Sunday 21st September|
|14:00||Newcastle vs Northampton|
|Friday 26th September|
|19:45||London Welsh vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 27th September|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Sale|
|15:15||Northampton vs Bath|
|Sunday 28th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Newcastle|
|14:00||Exeter vs Harlequins|
|Friday 3rd October|
|19:45||Bath vs Saracens|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com