Six-try Exeter turn on the second-half power to end Saints' Premiership title challenge
Saints suffered Gallagher Premiership semi-final agony as they were beaten 42-12 by a powerful Exeter Chiefs side on Saturday afternoon.
Chris Boyd's men were right in the match at the halfway stage at Sandy Park.
They trailed by just 14-12 at that point and should have been ahead, but crucial missed opportunities, particularly from Cobus Reinach, would come back and bite them.
Exeter started the second half with a two-try blitz to take control of proceedings, and although Saints battled to get back into it, they couldn't find a way.
The home side dominated the second half and added two further tries to wrap up an emphatic victory.
It was all Exeter in the opening stages at Sandy Park, with the home side dominating possession against a nervy looking Saints side, who were making far too many basic errors.
The home side thought they had got the score their pressure warranted after 12 minutes, but Reinach did superbly to get his knee under the ball as Dave Ewers tried to ground it.
Referee Matthew Carley went to the TMO, and he confirmed there was no grounding.
Saints then won a penalty from the Exeter scrum and regained precious possession, only for hooker James Fish to gift it straight back, overthrowing a lineout.
That meant Exeter were back on the attack, and they made Saints pay this time, with Harry Williams rolling his man and getting to ball down to open the scoring, Joe Simmonds adding the conversion to make it 7-0 after 16 minutes.
Saints were struggling to get out of their half, and on 22 minutes they were in deep trouble, Simmonds slicing through some questionable defending to score, and he added the conversion to make it 14-0.
The visitors looked shell-shocked, but they were back in it after 29 minutes.
Saints at long last got their lineout to function properly, and it looked like Fish had scored after a rolling maul, but on closer inspection it was clear he had dropped the ball.
Referee Carley though had spotted Tom O'Flaherty had gone in from the side on Fish, and the penalty try was awarded, with the Exeter winger yellow carded.
Saints were back in it at 14-7, and just a minute later they were to get over the line again with a fantastic try.
It was set up by a fantastic take collect from Tom Collins on the right wing, with the play being switched to the left by Dan Biggar.
It was then worked back out to the right, and despite a bit of juggling from Rory Hutchinson, the Saints centre brillaintly got the ball out of the back of his hand to Ahsee Tuala who cruised over.
Biggar missed the conversion, and it was 14-12.
The Welsh fly-half then saw a drop goal drift wide as a rejuvenated Saints looked to get their noses in front, and they should have done in the dying seconds of the half.
Hutchinson made a superb break down the middle, drew the last man and passed to Reinach on his left.
It was an open goal for the scrum-half, all he had to do was catch the ball and run it in under the posts - but he inexplicably dropped it, and it stayed 14-12 at the break.
Saints were made to pay for their profligacy as Exeter started the second half with a bang, scoring two tries in quick succession.
First David Dennis went over from close ranger after intensive pressure on the line, and then O'Flaherty produced a moment of magic to run in a stunning solo try from halfway.
Both were converted by Simmonds, and the home side were in control again at 28-12.
Exeter were relentless, and although Saints put their bodies on the line in defence, they couldn't stop Sam Simmonds going over from close range after 71 minutes.
The conversion was popped over, and still they weren't finished.
In the dying seconds Exeter scored their sixth try of the afternoon, Sam Hill this time the beneficiary after yet another move off an attacking lineout.
Joe Simmonds added the extras to complete a 42-12 victory, and end Saints' season.