Premiership: Northampton 34-19 Exeter - Saints impress with bonus-point win

Tommy Freeman dives over for an early try for Northampton
Tommy Freeman's early try for Northampton set the tone for the game

Gallagher Premiership

Northampton: (17) 34

Tries: Freeman, Langdon, Mitchell, Dingwall Cons: Smith 4 Pens: Smith 2

Exeter: (5) 19

Tries: Vermeulen, Sio, Roots Cons: Slade 2

Northampton leapfrogged 14-man Exeter into fourth place in the Premiership after a dominant 34-19 home victory.

Northampton impressed in the opening quarter as tries from Tommy Freeman and Curtis Langdon put them 17-0 up.

Jacques Vermeulen got a try back before the break despite Saints' dominance.

Alex Mitchell extended Saints' lead before Scott Sio replied, but Exeter had Niall Armstrong sent off for dangerous play on 68 minutes and Fraser Dingwall scored the bonus-point try.

Ethan Roots got a late consolation score for Exeter, but their 10th successive Premiership defeat away from Sandy Park leaves them in fifth place after five rounds of matches.

Tom Seabrook's break down the left wing after 90 seconds, that was superbly stopped close to the Exeter line by Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, set the tone and field position, and Freeman went over on the right for Newcastle a minute later - thanks to Fin Smith's grubber kick.

Having missed a long-range penalty Smith kicked an 18th-minute three-pointer before Saints' second try three minutes later, as Langdon got on the end of a maul from a five-metre scrum.

Northampton dominated much of the opening period apart from a few minutes around the half-hour mark where Exeter scored - Vermeulen going in from close to the Saints line after Exeter had won three consecutive penalties deep in home territory.

Another Smith penalty after 51 minutes extended the lead to 15 points before the try of the afternoon - Alex Coles picked the ball up 15 metres inside his own half, skipped past a tackle and fed Sam Matavesi - who in turn set Freeman free down the right wing - and he put Mitchell in to score on his return from World Cup duty with England.

Freeman thought he had secured a try-scoring bonus point six minutes later, but his score was chalked off after video reviews showed a neck roll by Ethan Waller in the build-up, and Exeter cut the gap when Sio went in from close range soon after having seen Henry Slade blast through for a rare foray into the home red zone.

But any hopes of an Exeter comeback were dashed when replacement Niall Armstrong was red-carded for dangerous play, as his outstretched foot hit Smith flush in the face as he jumped for a high ball.

Dingwall went in under the posts four minutes later after quick thinking from replacement scrum-half Tom James, before Roots went in from a metre after Exeter again converted when they were within five metres.

Northampton director of rugby Phil; Dowson told BBC Radio Northampton:

"On both sides of the ball we did lots of things really well.

"What we spoke about was the balance between the discipline and not giving them fast ball, around which they can really generate momentum.

"They've been so effective at that, particularly at home, so that was a key factor in us being physical but also being disciplined."

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter told BBC Radio Devon:

"I've got a little bit of frustration, but also an understanding that we've got a lot to learn.

"Whenever scoreboards create pressure and moments in games create pressure, that's when we've really got to learn things.

"I think we took a step forward last week against Bristol, but I think today, I'm not saying we took a step back, but we didn't quite hold our composure.

"I would say it was a game where if you said 'what was the difference between the sides' I would have said Northampton put A, B, C of pressure together and we created lot's of A's and couldn't make many B's happen."

Northampton: Hendy; Freeman, Dingwall (capt), Hutchinson, Seabrook; Smith, Mitchell; A Waller, Langdon, Hill, Moon, Munga, Lawes, Scott-Young, Graham.

Replacements: Matavesi, E Waller, Davison, Coles, Pearson, James, Litchfield, Sleightholme.

Exeter: Wyatt; Feyi-Waboso, Slade, Hawkins, Hammersley; Skinner, Cairns; Abuladze, Frost, Iosefa-Scot, Jenkins (capt), Pearson, Roots, Vermeulen, Vintcent.

Replacements: Yeandle, Sio, Painter, Tuima, Davis, Armstrong, Haydon-Wood, Hendrickson.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys