Waldrom double stuns Northampton
Two tries from Thomas Waldrom saw Exeter stun champions Northampton 24-18 at a wet Franklins Gardens.
With six players on international duty and another two injured, a well-drilled Exeter led 21-6 at the break and held off a second half Northampton comeback to record their first Aviva Premiership win at the Gardens.
Exeter shocked the champions after just 90 seconds by opening the scoring with a try from Luke Cowan-Dickie.
The visitors won their own kick-off and almost - and probably should have - scored through Jack Nowell, but the England winger was just hauled short by Tom Collins and Ben Foden, forcing Collins to limp off. The Chiefs had a penalty anyway and when they kicked to the corner hooker Cowan-Dickie was on the end of the lineout drive.
Gareth Steenson converted before Stephen Myler pulled Saints to within one point with two penalties but Exeter peppered the home side with long kicks to keep them pinned in their half. A strong and quick defence saw Saints stuck, save for a clever lineout move that saw Luther Burrell, back from the thumb injury that kept him out of England's opening autumn international defeat, charge up to the Chief's 22, but his chip was smothered by white shirts.
The suffocating Exeter defence got its reward when Waldrom intercepted Mike Haywood's pass on halfway, and despite Lee Dickson catching him five metres short the big number eight slid over for a try converted by Steenson.
Northampton thought they had their opening try when Samu Manoa ghosted out of ruck on his 10 metre line to sprint clear. He reached with 15 metres of the try-line and passed inside to Dickson but the scrum-half was caught by opposite number Will Chudley. Dickson's offload went to ground and Haywood knocked on trying to pick it up with the line in sight.
Exeter thought they had a third try just before the break but the TMO ruled there was no obvious grounding by Phil Dollman. But it mattered not as Waldrom picked up from the ensuing five metre scrum to charge over for his second try. Steenson converted to give Exeter a commanding lead at the break.
The visitors could have killed the game off straight after the interval when flanker Don Armand broke through from a lineout on Saints' 10-metre line, but a penalty ended the attack. Exeter players punched the air when they saw off a lineout drive minutes later and with 26 minutes to go Steenson added a penalty to make it 24-6.
But the pressure was building and Saints finally got their first try thanks to the pace and great hands of James Wilson as he passed inside to send Tom Stephenson. From five metres in from the touch, Myler made it 24-13 with 20 minutes left.
Ten minutes later and relentless pressure saw Jamie Elliott wriggle over in the left corner, but Myler missed the touchline conversion to leave Northampton six points behind.
Steenson missed with a drop goal with five minutes to go, but the Chiefs held out for a famous win.