Match Preview: Exeter v Northampton

Northampton Saints v Exeter Chiefs

Aviva Premiership leaders Northampton Saints travel to Exeter Chiefs as they look to extend their unbeaten run to six matches. Northampton, who comfortably dispatched Wasps 52-30 on Friday night, hold a 10 point advantage over nearest challengers Saracens with just four games remaining in the regular season. Meanwhile, Exeter will be looking to bounce back after their 25-18 loss to Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Saturday. The Chiefs are on the cusp of a playoff spot, and will be looking to cement their position with a victory in Sunday’s game. We preview the upcoming clash and give our thoughts on who will win what is set to be a tasty affair.

Exeter Chiefs

The Chiefs dropped out of the top four after defeat to Leicester and will be looking to reclaim their place in a playoff spot. Exeter no. 8 Thomas Waldrom scored his 13th try of the season in their defeat to Leicester – the most in the Aviva Premiership – and the Chiefs will be looking to him for inspiration as they face the division’s best side. Henry Slade had a day to forget against Leicester as he missed two of his three penalty attempts at goal, and he will need to improve his performance before next week’s clash at Sandy Park. With no fresh injury news, Exeter will hope that their preparation goes smoothly and they can end Northampton’s current streak.

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Northampton Saints

Northampton are a formidable outfit at the moment, and the Saints will be in confident mood heading into Sunday’s fixture. The league leaders scored seven tries in their demolition of 14-man Wasps, with Ahsee Tuala and George North touching down braces – although the latter was stretchered off midway through the first-half after suffering his third concussion in four months. North was left unconscious after Wasps’ Nathan Hughes’ knee made contact with the Welshman’s head, although the winger has since confirmed that he feels ok after the incident. Sunday’s game may come too soon for the winger, who will be a big blow to the Saints if he is ruled out.

Prediction

The formbook suggests that the Saints will earn a straightforward victory, but the Exeter Chiefs could give them a tough test at Sandy Park. The bookmakers are suggesting that this could be a routine victory for the visitors, despite the fact that George North may be out. Also, the Chiefs are desperate to earn their first playoff berth since promotion in 2010, and there is no doubt that they will give their all. But the Saints should be good enough, and may take it by 1-7 points.

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