Northampton overpowered Exeter to win Aviva Premiership clash at Sandy Park, says Will Greenwood
Last Updated: 06/01/13 6:51pm
Van Velze: the South African scored a try as Northampton defeated Exeter
Will Greenwood praised Northampton's physical approach after they bounced back from successive Premiership losses and inflicted Exeter's first home league defeat of the season.
Saints had slipped to sixth in the top-flight standings after they were beaten by high-flying Harlequins and Saracens over the festive period, but returned to the top four after a 30-19 triumph at Sandy Park on Saturday afternoon - until they were bumped down again the following day after Wasps conquered Bath.
"I think Saints took confidence from winning at Exeter last season as they had a real strut."
Ken Pisi, Soane Tonga'uiha and Gerrit-Jan van Velze scored a try each, while fly-half Stephen Myler kicked three penalties, as well as a trio of conversions, as Saints won in Devon for the second consecutive campaign.
"It was a super win; Northampton were outstanding at the breakdown, they kicked, they chased and they hunted Exteter down," Greenwood told Sky Sports.
"They put in a physical performance which Van Velze was at the heart of, while they were well marshalled by (George) Pisi and (Dominic) Waldouck in the midfield.
"Their driving maul, which has been coached by Dorian West for four or five years, was excellent and I think they took confidence from winning at Exeter last season as they had a real strut."
Stuart Barnes now believes Northampton are likely to see of the challenge of Gloucester - who lost at home to struggling London Irish on Saturday - Wasps and Exeter and claim the final play-off spot.
Dewi Morris, meanwhile, praised the attacking intentions of Rob Baxter's Chiefs, but says they must be less careless in possession if they are to push for a place in the top four.
"Northampton might struggle against the top three of Harlequins, Leicester and Sarcens, but showed against Exeter they are the best of the rest and remain clear favourites for that fourth spot," said former Bath man Barnes.
Morris added: "I take my hat off to Exeter as they try to play their way out of trouble, but there were too many handling errors. Northampton knew they had the sign over Exeter power-wise and that was the basis of their win."