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Aviva Premiership: Northampton Saints beat Exeter Chiefs to go top
A late try from George Pisi, converted by fly-half Stephen Myler, earned Northampton a 17-16 win at Exeter and took the Saints to the top of the Aviva Premiership table.
The final minutes saw the visitors camped on the Chiefs' line searching for seven points to steal the victory and a series of five-metre scrums led to Samoan international Pisi breaching the line, with Myler converting.
The Chiefs suffered an early blow when their skipper Dean Mumm was sent to the sin-bin for stamping.
But even with a man down the Devon side won a penalty for a high tackle on Gareth Steenson and the fly-half, with the wind at his back, slotted the ball between the uprights from 35 metres. However, he was just short of his target minutes later from outside on the left.
The Saints then applied the pressure, kicking a penalty to the corner before the forwards gained ground to allow lock Samu Manoa to offload for full-back James Wilson to cross for the first try of the game. Myler's conversion attempt hit the outside of the post.
Ten minutes before the break Northampton's Christian Day had to be helped from the pitch, before assistant referee Kelvin Stewart pulled a muscle.
Steenson pulled another long range penalty wide before finding his target to give the hosts the the lead.
TMO Ashley Rowden was then called into action to adjudicate on whether Samu Manoa had squeezed in at the corner or was bundled into touch. The former Premiership referee judged in the American international's favour to restore the Saints advantage.
Exeter kept battling away and another high tackle on Steenson in front of the posts allowed the half-back to land his third penalty to reduce the arrears at the break to 10-9 in a game were the conditions limited expansive play.
The Chiefs started the second half very lively and sought to take advantage of the extra man when Day's replacement Gj Van Velze was shown yellow for preventing the hosts taking a quick tap penalty.
They looked to have been rewarded for the efforts as centre Ian Whitten intercepted a pass to race 45 metres before being pulled down five metres from the line as he got the ball away to wing Matt Jess.
When the ball was worked wide flanker James Scaysbrook was judged by the TMO to have been held up over the line. From the scrum Lewis picked up and found a gap to cross the line with Steenson converting.
The conditions deteriorated as the game entered the final quarter but the Chiefs defence stood firm, with only a penalty to the corner breaching the opposition 22.
From the line-out the Saints crept closer to the line and referee Garner again called upon the TMO to deliberate. He ruled that the visitors were held up over the line, then the Chiefs were penalised at the resultant scrum.
With the Saints seeking a converted try to take the game they opted for another scrum and were again penalised. The third scrum stood up and the next attempt saw the ball pop out the back for the Chiefs to seize possession.
From a lineout Myler put a grubber kick through but replacement scrum-half Hayden Thomas collected and touched down.
However, yet another five-metre scrum saw Pisi burst through and Myler converted to grab the win.
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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