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HomeSportRugbyTen pictures from Dave Ikin that show how Saints weatherproofed their game...

Ten pictures from Dave Ikin that show how Saints weatherproofed their game with grit the beat the Chiefs

Northampton Saints 26-19 Exeter Chiefs* Pictures by Dave Ikin

Fin Smith was Man of the Match and Tommy Freeman crossed the whitewash twice but the spirit of this win was summed up in a moment that came from Aaron Hinkley.

It came in the second half, a ruck had formed with Exeter in possession and Waller contesting and Hinkley had just disentangled himself from the back and rejoined the defensive line two players away from the action.

However there was something in his body language that signalled he wasn’t quite done with this situation. It was as though some ancient primal call to ruck that only back rows can hear was ringing in his ears.

He trotted back towards the action in front of the defence, looking scarily like he was just going to hit it from the side but then with an almost balletic elegance circled round the back and exploded through the pile of bodies assisting a second shove from Waller. The turnover was won.

The flair was still there on a cold slippery night under the lights when the visitors were justfiably trying to execute the text book Method To Stop Saints 1A, forcing us to play off slow backfoot ball and hitting us on the break where and when.

There were cute offloads, cheeky lines and a Dingwall nutmeg to admire. Freeman finished like a missile taking chances and crafted opportunities with equal appetite.

But Exeter found that we were prepared to kick it back to them and perhaps also that there is no such thing as a second choice forward at Northampton Saints as a ferocious gain line battle turned Saints way.

Smith piloted the team from 10 with a calm assurance, patiently focussed on taking points off the chiefs after their early try.

There were some worrying moments. At one stage it looked like Exeter had completely decoded our line out but this was followed by a perfectly executed throw leading to a score.

There was a balance to this Saints performance: aggression, discipline and flair. Sensible, gritty wet-weather rugby. Northampton play at Saracens next Sunday. Pics by Dave Ikin

Saints match report

I'm the editor and owner of The NeneQuirer.

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