Tom Hendrickson grabbed two tries as rampant Exeter beat Northampton 57-7 to pull eight points clear at the top of the Premiership.
Northampton arrived at Sandy Park with their hopes of being involved in a battle for first place possibly hinging on the outcome, and the thumping nature of their defeat was painful for Saints.
Hosts Exeter could not breach the try-line in the opening half-hour, having just a penalty from Joe Simmonds to show for their initial endeavours.
Jonny Hill, Elvis Taione and Jannes Kirsten then crossed in quick succession to put the Chiefs in charge by the break, building a 22-0 lead after taking advantage of a yellow card for Tom Collins.
Hendrickson went over twice in the second half, with Ben Moon, Tom O’Flaherty and Sam Simmonds taking the home side’s try count to eight.
James Grayson dotted down a consolation for Northampton, who now sit fourth, nine points adrift of Exeter, with their points difference having taken a battering.
— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) February 23, 2020
Bristol jumped above Northampton into third place after a 13-10 home win over Worcester.
Eight points from the boot of Callum Sheedy and a Luke Morahan try gave the Bears their narrow win.
Nick David’s try early in the second half for Warriors, converted by Duncan Weir, and a penalty from Scott van Breda kept it tight.
However, Sheedy’s second penalty of the game in the 69th minute proved to be the match-winner, leaving Worcester down in 10th place.
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