Dowson delighted as Saints produce the perfect blend to see off Exeter Chiefs

Fraser Dingwall dived over for Saints' bonus-point try (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Fraser Dingwall dived over for Saints' bonus-point try (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The black, green and gold produced easily their most complete performance in the early stages of the Gallagher Premiership season as they bagged a bonus-point 34-19 win.

Exeter had started the weekend top of the table, but Saints were by far the better side, scoring through Tommy Freeman, Curtis Langdon, Alex Mitchell and Fraser Dingwall.

And Dowson was delighted that his side, who were squeaky clean in terms of discipline during the formative stages of the match, had achieved what they set out to do.

"On both sides of the ball, we did lots of things really well," Dowson said.

"We spoke about the balance between discipline and not giving them fast ball, from which they can really generate momentum. They've been so effective at that, particularly at home.

"It was a big focus to be physical but also disciplined and not give too many penalties away."

Saints were given an extra shot in the arm during the second half as the likes of Sam Matavesi and Alex Coles came off the bench and delivered huge showings.

"We emptied our bench and those players are there to have an impact, to make a difference without doing anything extraordinary, and they did that," Dowson said.

"We also saw that last week when Sam Graham came off the bench. He was disappointed not to start but he was outstanding and he got the turnover at the end of the game, which allowed us to win it.

"We've talked a lot about the impact those (bench) guys can have and that strength in depth is something we continually work for.

"It's a whole squad effort the way the season is and for James Ramm to drop out late (due to illness) and Ollie Sleightholme to come off the bench and have a really good understanding of what the plan was and how he was going to impact it was fantastic.

"Credit to the players for their application week in, week out."

Matavesi, Courtney Lawes and Mitchell were making their first Saints appearances since returning from World Cup duty.

And Dowson said: "To have world class players coming back into the environment is brilliant.

"Luds (Lewis Ludlam) had a week off last week to recover from the World Cup and so those players both on and off the pitch have a huge impact on the environment, the culture and all those different things.

"The energy Sam Matavesi brings off the pitch and in training and the enjoyment he brings into the environment is fantastic.

"He was a really big driver in that second half of keeping that momentum and our energy high."