LV= Cup: Exeter Chiefs 15-8 Northampton Saints

Exeter Chiefs celebrate their first major trophy win. Picture: PA
Exeter Chiefs celebrate their first major trophy win. Picture: PA
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Exeter secured their first major silverware as they clinched the LV= Cup against Northampton at Sandy Park.

Early tries in each half from Chris Whitehead and Dean Mumm served to delight a crowd of just over 10,000 at the Chiefs’ home.

Samu Manoa crossed for Saints’ only try ten minutes from the end, but the Aviva Premiership leaders were unable to avoid their second successive final defeat in the tournament.

The Chiefs went in to the break with a slender 8-3 lead as England Under-20 fly-half Henry Slade added a late penalty to Whitehead’s fourth-minute try. Glenn Dickson kicked over Northampton’s only points of the first period.

Exeter extended their lead ten minutes in to the second half through Mumm, converted by Slade. Both sides went in search of further scores and, ten minutes from time, Manoa reduced the deficit but that was the end of the scoring.

The Saints were forced to make late changes when Stephen Myler failed a late fitness test and, with replacement Will Hooley not recovered from concussion, New Zealand-born Dickson started at fly-half with Sam Olver added to the bench.

Chiefs made an early statement of intent by kicking a penalty, after a Saints offside, to the corner and from the line-out taken by lock Damien Welch set-up a catch and drive for hooker Whitehead to get the touchdown.

The strength of the Saints’ scrum was made apparent when the Chiefs conceded a penalty six minutes later at a set piece on their own 22 allowing Dickson, kicking into the stiff breeze, to land three points from the tee.

Northampton stepped up the pace testing the Exeter defence who conceded a penalty five metres from their own line. Saints kicked to touch and tried to drive for the line but the Chiefs defence managed to stand firm.

From the resultant scrum both front rows stood up, on two occasions, and at the third attempt it was wheeled with Saints penalised to allow Exeter to clear up-field and begin to push the opponents back in to their own half.

Saints were then penalised just outside their own 22 but Slade, kicking from out wide on the left, was unable to bisect the uprights. The young half-back had another opportunity minutes later from the other side of the pitch which was successful.

The Chiefs maintained the pressure in the second half with Fetu’u Vainikolo breaking before offloading inside to skipper Mumm who crashed over the whitewash.

Northampton came back to reduce the arrears with ten minutes remaining as second row Manoa got in at the right corner after the ball was worked across the backs, but Dickson was unable to convert and the Devon sideheld on for a famous win.