A brace of tries from Tommy Freeman, including a 71st minute decider, plus 16 points from Fin Smith enabled Heineken Champions Cup Pool B hopefuls Northampton Saints to defeat Pool A’s Exeter Chiefs 26-19 at home in the Gallagher Premiership on Friday.

Freeman, who has two tries in five EPCR competition appearances, notched his first effort with 31 minutes on the clock at the cinch Stadium, in response to Ruben van Heerden’s early score for the Chiefs, which was converted by Joe Simmonds.

Smith improved Freeman’s try and kicked a penalty to give the 2000 European champions a 10-7 lead at the break.

However, 2020 Heineken Champions Cup winners Exeter took command on the restart, with fly-half Simmonds taking advantage of Aaron Hinkley’s sin-binning to register two tries in five minutes and convert one to total 14 points in the match.

The game swung back the hosts’ way, though, in the latter stages, with Smith taking his penalty tally in the contest to three and adding to the extras to Freeman’s second try.

Northampton travel to Heineken Champions Cup holders Stade Rochelais in the opening round of this season’s competition on December 10 and Exeter also face TOP 14 opposition on that day, travelling to Castres Olympique.