Exeter 35-12 Northampton: Luke Cowan-Dickie was the star for the Chiefs as his two tries led Rob Baxter’s side to victory over the Saints… Sam Simmonds, Olly Woodburn and Henry Slade also scored tests for the home side
- Exeter beat Northampton Saints in a convincing 35-12 home win
- Sam Simmonds scored the opening try for his side as Exeter took control
- Luke Cowan-Dickie was the star man of his side scoring two tries in an excellent display
- However, Cowan-Dickie was forced to withdraw with an ankle injury
The Devon sky above Sandy Park was tinged with an unusual shade of pink before kick-off.
Northampton and touch judge John Meredith were left red-faced with embarrassment when the final whistle blew. Exeter were comfortable winners, dominating from start to finish despite losing two-try captain Luke Cowan-Dickie to a right ankle injury. New England head coach Steve Borthwick will now be sweating on Cowan-Dickie’s fitness for the Six Nations.
‘ Luke rolled his ankle. To get him off the pitch, it’s a bit of a pain,’ said Exeter head coach Ali Hepher, whose team bounced back impressively from Saracens’ humbling. ‘Tactically, we are very good. That’s the reaction we want.’
Luke Cowan-Dickie scored two tries for Exeter but was forced off the pitch with an ankle injury.
Exeter fly to South Africa on Sunday, for Saturday’s Champions Cup clash with the Bulls. They will make late calls if Cowan-Dickie and Stuart Hogg, struggling with a heel problem, travel to Pretoria. The temperature is expected to reach 35 degrees there.
The contrast to a British January could not be more different, but Exeter will go to unusual climates boosted by the most convincing victories.
With England pair Cowan-Dickie and Sam Simmonds back in their side after injury, the hosts bullied Northampton to no avail. Both Cowan-Dickie and Simmonds will leave Exeter for French champions Montpellier next season. They showed here how much they will be missed.
Both players scored, but Cowan-Dickie was pulled back after his brace after being tackled from behind by Alex Coles. His injury and a poor home crowd were the only negatives for Exeter as they showed Northampton how much work they still have to do to upset the league’s best.
Exeter went ahead immediately, the returning Simmonds crossing from close range. The home side’s second came after a long, painful period of kicking.
Saints full-back Tommy Freeman blinked first and tried to run the ball back, but he was swarmed by black shirts with their backs to the ball and Olly Woodburn pounced for his 50th Premiership try.
Sam Simmonds scored Exeter’s first try of the game and was one of the star players for his side
Northampton were overpowered up front and lost vital line-outs.
One-way traffic, stopping only for a brief moment of comedy when Meredith tweaked a calf and had to be replaced on the side.
Cowan-Dickie and Simmonds led Exeter’s charge. Their third came from their captain after Solomone Kata was released in the air. Cowan-Dickie was never going to be stopped.
Referee Adam Leal stepped down at the start of the second half after being accidentally stepped on by Northampton prop Alex Waller. This time the official stayed and immediately awarded Cowan-Dickie his second. At least Fraser Dingwall put Northampton on the board.
Freeman left the field for a head injury assessment and missed another Saints line-out that went astray.
Olly Woodburn powered his line to score his 50th Premiership try
It soon got worse for them. Effectively a man down with Cowan-Dickie circling around limp, Saints scrum half Alex Mitchell passed straight to Henry Slade who stepped over for Exeter’s fifth. Matt Proctor grabbed a Northampton consolation, but it was a much-needed bonus-point win for Exeter in their bid to upset the play-off spots.
Cowan-Dickie’s presence on the bench at the end is promising.
Northampton director of rugby Phil Dowson had hoped to have England flanker Courtney Lawes back for their trip to Munster but saw his side fail to back-up a big win against Harlequins.
‘We are very poor in too many places and inaccurate. We didn’t get it right and we need to know why. We showed a few pieces, but it was too little, too late,’ said Dowson.
‘We were really good last weekend, and we were a bit inaccurate and it was difficult. We didn’t lack energy or effort, we just made a lot of mistakes.’
Cowan-Dickie’s injury put a dampener on the win – especially in the upcoming Six Nations
Chiefs of Exeter
Trying: S Simmonds, Woodburn, Cowan-Dickie (2), Slade
cons: J Simmonds (5)
Saints in Northampton
Trying: Dingwall, Proctor
Referee: Adam Leal (RFU)
Star Man: Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs)