Northampton 24 Exeter 21
Northampton overturned a half-time deficit to run out deserved winners on a balmy afternoon at Franklin Gardens.
A nip-and-tuck first 15 minutes was halted by Northampton's Christian Day, who was on the end of a break launched following a wayward kick from Exeter's Ignacio Mieres.
Ryan Lamb was wide with the conversion, but he was on target with the extras ten minutes later as the visitors added to their lead courtesy of a try from Phil Dowson, which was scored after Lamb had made the initial burst to set up the attack.
The Chiefs had it all to do, but they roared back in the closing stages of the first period to take an unlikely lead with them into the interval.
They got the ball rolling on 30 minutes when great work down the right from Josh Tatupu created the opportunity for Phil Dolman to score.
Mieres was on target with the conversion, and added two penalties before half-time to make it 13-12 to the Chiefs as the teams headed down the tunnel.
The Chiefs added to their lead with ten minutes of the second half played courtesy of a third penalty from Mieres, but the rest of this contest belonged to the Saints.
Luther Burrell breached the Exeter defence following a sustained period of pressure to put the hosts back in front, and less than ten minutes later they had a cushion.
Dylan Hartley completed a neatly worked line-out move to make it 22-16, with Stephen Myler's conversion putting eight points between the sides.
The Chiefs rallied in the closing stages of the game, but, by this stage, time was against them, and, when Matt Jess got over in the corner with seconds remaining following a flowing combination of passes, it was little more than consolation.