Premiership leaders Exeter Chiefs lost for the second league away game running as Northampton Saints edged a 31-28 victory on Friday.
Exeter were beaten at Harlequins late in November and they again come unstuck on their travels in a thrilling encounter at a raucous Franklin’s Gardens as the Saints climbed to fourth.
Northampton made a flying start as Piers Francis tore through the Chiefs inside two minutes and Dan Biggar quickly added a second home try.
But that lead was wiped out as a series of infringements led to an Exeter penalty try, before Santiago Cordero crossed in the corner to tie an entertaining match.
Fraser Dingwall was influential in the hosts wresting back the momentum ahead of the break, going between the posts for a third try and holding up Ollie Devoto on the line after Alex Waller was sent to the sin bin from a scrum.
— Northampton Saints (@SaintsRugby) December 28, 2018
The Chiefs continued to push and the TMO confirmed Ben Moon’s 44th-minute try to draw the sides level again.
A breakaway effort sent Northampton clear before the hour mark, Cobus Reinach seizing on a pass and sprinting through for the bonus point.
Luke Cowan-Dickie had only been on the field five minutes when he saw yellow for a dangerous double tackle on Courtney Lawes, giving Biggar the opportunity to kick a crucial penalty that kept the Saints in front even when Matt Kvesic crossed beyond the 80th minute.
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