Performance pleases Chiefs supremo Rob
HEAD coach Rob Baxter was pleased with the intensity and accuracy his Exeter Chiefs players showed to end their six-game winless run.
The hosts survived having two players sent to the sin bin to overcome Northampton in the LV= Cup.
While that was not enough to send the Sandy Park outfit through to the semi-finals, it did deny the Saints a place in the last four.
And having lost five and drawn one of their previous six outings, Baxter was encouraged by the display from a largely second-choice 15.
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He said: "We've talked a lot in recent weeks about intensity and I think that really came home in the Northampton game.
"Playing in the Heineken Cup and against top Premiership sides, you can be well prepared, know what's coming and have things in your armoury that can hurt the opposition, but sometimes you have to be going flat-out.
"You also have to add accuracy, good decision making and seeing your opportunities through on top of that intensity. That's what we've been challenging the players to do.
"Against Northampton we came out with an intense start, which we then followed through for a large part of the game. Even when Northampton came back into it in the second half, we never really let them settle.
"We were a little bit more accurate and we took some opportunities, which we have not been doing of late.
"It was really pleasing from my perspective. It was a strong Northampton side that came down and we dealt with it very well. I think we won a very important game."
Before kick-off, Northampton's players knew they needed to win with a bonus point to progress to the next stage. Exeter's players knew their chances were effectively over already.
However, it was the home side who went flying out of the blocks at the start of the match as they took the game straight to their visitors and soon won a series of penalties.
Watisoni Votu, on his home debut, set up the position for the opening try with a terrific break that ended with Ben White driving over from close range.
Ignacio Mieres converted the early try and his side were soon back on the attack as Ian Whitten and Josh Tatupu combined exquisitely in the midfield to send Jack Nowell over.
It got even better for the Chiefs when Votu claimed his maiden Exeter try as he powered across the line from the base of a ruck.
Mieres added the extras and then struck a penalty as the hosts were 22-0 up after 31 minutes.
Prop Alex Waller pulled a try back before the break for the Saints, who sent on five senior players in the 50th minute.
That saw the momentum swing their way, especially when Ben White and then Will Carrick-Smith were in the bin.
Lee Dickson scored two tries, with Stephen Myler converting both, but it could not deny the Chiefs the win.