Premiership: Northampton 31-34 Exeter – Late Joe Simmonds penalty wins it for Chiefs

Northampton and Exeter
Juarno Augustus’ try helped put Northampton Saints 28-17 up early in the second half
Northampton Saints 31 (13)
Tries: Proctor, Collins, Augustus Cons: J Grayson 2 Pens: J Grayson 3, Francis
Exeter Chiefs 34 (17)
Tries: Hodge, Ewers, Yeandle, Woodburn Cons: J Simmonds 4 Pens: J Simmonds 2

Exeter Chiefs moved into the Premiership’s top four after a dramatic late win over Northampton Saints.

Captain Joe Simmonds kicked an 80th-minute penalty as Exeter came from 28-17 down with 15 minutes to go.

Jack Yeandle and Olly Woodburn scored tries to add to earlier scores from Josh Hodge and Dave Ewers.

It was a third straight loss for Northampton, who remain ninth, despite tries from Matt Proctor, Tom Collins and Juarno Augustus.

After two James Grayson penalties had put the home side ahead, Josh Hodge grabbed the first try of the game for Exeter, beating a tackle on halfway and racing to the line.

Northampton responded well as fine offloads from Alex Mitchell and Augustus set up Proctor for a score in the corner.

However, the Devon side took a half-time lead after Ewers powered over from close range with the home defence unable to stop the flanker.

Saints came flying out of the traps early in the second half to score 15 unanswered points with Collins and Augustus crossing as they played some fine rugby.

It put Chris Boyd’s side on course for their first win in three games, but the momentum changed when scrum-half Mitchell was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.

With him off the field, Exeter cranked up the pressure and Yeandle’s try reduced the gap to four, before Woodburn’s spectacular catch and touch down from Simmonds’ perfect cross-field kick put them in front.

A long-range penalty from Piers Francis levelled the scores before Simmonds kicked the Chiefs to a last-gasp victory for the second successive weekend, just as he did at Newcastle last Sunday.

Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd told BBC Radio Northampton:

“I’m pretty pleased with some of the play that we managed to do, but at the end of the game there were some big moments and small margins and generally we lost those moments.

“We kicked a goal to 31-31 and with a minute and a half to go with territory, I thought we were in a pretty good place to kick another goal or go for a fourth try.

“It wasn’t to be. We made an error, they capitalised and went to the other end, and the rest is history.”

Exeter Chiefs head coach Ali Hepher:

“We’ve lost four games this season with very late scores, so we are owed a few.

“It was a day for attacks with lots of breaks and in the end our spirit came through.

“It’s hugely exciting to come away at this time of year with a bunch of youngsters and get a big win for us.”

Northampton: Furbank; Skosan, Proctor, Dingwall (capt), Collins; J Grayson, Mitchell; Iyogun, Haywood, Painter, Ribbans, Ratuniyarawa, Coles, Matavesi, Augustus.

Replacements: Fish, Waller, Hill, Moon, Nansen, Tonks, James, Francis.

Sin-bin: Mitchell (63)

Exeter: Hodge; Woodburn, Whitten, Hendrickson, O’Flaherty; J Simmonds (capt), S Maunder; Hepburn, Innard, Schickerling, Kirsten, Jenkins, Ewers, Capstick, Grondona.

Replacements: Yeandle, Kenny, Street, Pearson, Norey, J Maunder, H Skinner, Cordero.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys

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