Rugby Union: Northampton v Exeter Preview

Two teams fighting for a place in the top four play-offs clash in the East Midlands, and on current form, you’d tip Northampton to lose.

The Saints, who’ve dropped to ninth in the Premiership table, have lost their last two league matches to oldest rivals Leicester Tigers and then Sale Sharks.

While Northampton have been struggling, Exeter are currently in decent form, beating Gloucester and Newcastle Falcons, and as they have an overall good record of success in away games at Northampton, there’s a strong case for backing the Sandy Park club.

The Chiefs, in fact, have won three out of their last four contests at Franklin’s Gardens in the Premiership, and with forwards such as Jannes Kirsten, Richard Capstick and Don Armand performing consistently well, don’t be surprised if they come away with a victory.

Exeter, who’re fifth in the table, have so far won nine of their 16 league games and have 45 points, whereas Northampton have 41 points and have won eight of their 15 contests.

The Saints may find it hard to penetrate the Chiefs’ try line which has been crossed only 35 times, making Exeter’s defence one of the best in the competition.

Meanwhile, Northampton are looking ahead to next season and have signed Italian scrum half, Callum Braley, from Benetton.

Braley qualifies for Italy through a grandparent and has made 13 appearances. His signing makes competition for the number nine shirt tougher, but a challenge that the current first choice scrum half Alex Mitchell will no doubt take up.

The 27-year-old, a member of Italy’s Six Nations squad, already has experience of the Premiership having played more than 100 games for Gloucester.

While the Saints are going through a bad patch currently, as they go into Sunday’s match at home, they should be able to take inspiration from their first meeting this season at Sandy Park back in September when they beat Exeter 26-24.

This game is LIVE on BT Sport this Sunday and kicks off at 13.00.