Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter believes his side’s fast start was the key to undoing Saints at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night.
Exeter emerged with the bit between their teeth, opening the scoring inside three minutes, with hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie crossing the whitewash.
It was the first time Saints had conceded a try in the opening 20 minutes of a game in the Aviva Premiership this season.
And Exeter proceeded to shock their hosts further, with two more scores - both from No.8 Thomas Waldrom - before the break.
It laid the foundations for a 24-18 victory, the Chiefs’ first at Franklin’s Gardens in the league, and Baxter was delighted with the application of his players.
He said: “We showed a lot of good qualities out there. The energy we went out there with at the start was very important.
“Northampton are by far the best starting team in the Premiership - you’ve only got to look at the points they score in the first 20 minutes - they’re way better than anyone else in the league.
“To get to 20 minutes and be one point in the lead was quite a telling factor for us.
“We’re the best second quarter team and we had a good second quarter. It’s funny that it can work like that. That put the advantage our way.
“As much as Northampton did come after us after half-time, as they have done in other games we’ve played against them, we just had enough to see the game home.”