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Northampton storm back from huge deficit to beat Exeter in final minute

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Saturday Jan 6, 2024

Northampton Saints staged a breathtaking comeback to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against Exeter in a gripping Premiership encounter, ultimately claiming a 35-36 win and securing their place at the top of the table. The match, filled with twists and turns, showcased the resilience and determination of the Saints this season.

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Exeter asserted early dominance as they stormed into a commanding 26-0 lead, with Jacques Vermeulen making an impact at both the beginning and end of a four-try spree within the opening 25 minutes.

Despite their early success, the hosts faced staunch resistance from a spirited Northampton defense, preventing them from further capitalising on their advantageous position.

However, the tide began to turn as yellow cards disrupted Exeter’s momentum on either side of the halftime break. Ollie Sleightholme, who would later prove instrumental in the Saints’ comeback, displayed his scoring prowess with a hat-trick, keeping his team’s hopes alive.

With just eight minutes remaining, Rus Tuima’s try appeared to secure victory for Exeter, but Northampton had other plans. Winning a crucial late line-out, the Saints orchestrated a series of phases, culminating in a dramatic last-minute try by Rory Hutchinson.

The unforgettable moment not only sealed their triumph in this enthralling contest but also marked the first time a visiting team emerged victorious at Sandy Park since October 2022.

The win propels Northampton to the summit of the Premiership, three points ahead of Harlequins.

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Despite Exeter’s valiant effort, including earning two bonus points, they remain in third place.

The match showcased the unpredictability of the ultra competitive ten team Premiership with every team seemingly capable of beating the others.

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