Northampton produced one of the upsets of the English Premiership season to beat league leaders Exeter 31-28 at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday.
Wales international Dan Biggar scored 16 points for the Saints, including a try, penalty and four conversions, with South Africa’s Cobus Reinach, Fraser Dingwall and Piers Francis also crossing for the home side as Northampton secured a bonus point.
But Exeter remained top of the standings after coming away with bonus points of their own thanks to tries from Argentina’s Santiago Cordero and the English duo of Matt Kvesic and Ben Moon. Gareth Steenson converted all three scores, with Exeter also scoring a penalty try as well.
Northampton found themselves without England co-captain Dylan Hartley after the hooker was a late withdrawal with a knee injury. But they still took the lead through Francis’s excellent third-minute try before Biggar completed a fine move to make it 14-0.
Exeter’s powerful pack forced Northampton into conceding a penalty try and the visitors then saw Cordero outpace the Northampton cover for a well-worked try.
Steenson’s conversion levelled the scores at 14-14 but Northampton responded superbly with Dingwall, on for the injured Francis crossing for a try.
Exeter centre Ollie Devoto was denied a try when the television match official ruled he had been held up over the line and the southwest side were level again when Moon crowned a period of sustained pressure with a try.
Amid a welter of replacements, Reinach intercepted Nic White’s pass to spring 45 metres for a breakaway score before a Biggar penalty extended Northampton’s lead, with a stoppage-time try from Kvesic too late to deny the home side a fine victory.
© Agence France-Presse (additional edits from Chris Kelleher)