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- Newcastle Falcons
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- Team Icon
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- Exeter Chiefs
- Team Score
Newcastle Falcons 19
Exeter Chiefs 32
Mark Stevens at Kingston Park
Will Chudley marked his return to former club Newcastle Falcons by claiming the bonus point try as Exeter Chiefs returned to winning ways at Kingston Park.
The scrum-half sniped over two minutes from time to put the icing on the cake for Rob Baxter’s side, who added earlier tries through Ollie Devoto, Thomas Waldrom and James Short.
Skipper Gareth Steenson weighed in with the remainder of the points to ensure Exeter of their third league win of the season, a result which also lifted them back into the top four for 24 hours at least.
Newcastle who had come into the game in good form countered with tries from Scott Lawson and Alex Tait, plus three penalties from Mike Delany, but it was never enough to dent last season’s beaten finalists, who after a mixed start to the season are now beginning to show their colours.
After a fortnight of action in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, it was back to the bread and butter of the top flight for Baxter’s side, which showed 13 changes from that which had seen off Cardiff Blues 62-25 the week previous.
Backs Will Chudley, Ian Whitten and Phil Dollman were the sole survivors for the visitors, who were looking to emulate the same fast start they produced in the North East last season, when they had the try bonus point secured inside the opening half hour.
On a cold, biting night in the North East, the Devonians again got off to the dream start when Devoto bagged his maiden score in Exeter colours, picking off Micky Young’s intended pass to race in from his own 22.
It was a fine finish from the former Bath man, who not only demonstrated his eye for the line, but also showed an excellent turn of speed to shake off the attentions of Newcastle winger Marcus Watson, who was part of Team GB’s Sevens side at the Olympic Games in Rio.
Steenson duly obliged with the resultant conversion and the Chiefs were up and running in style.
The Falcons, buoyed on by their biggest crowd of the season, looked to respond immediately, but the Chiefs held firm under the home pressure, denying their hosts before turning over possession with a strong defensive set.
On 13 minutes, though, the Falcons did get their first points of the night when New Zealander Delany slotted a long-range penalty after Waldrom had been singled out by referee Tim Wigglesworth for infringing in midfield.
The battle for territory continued apace as the half ticked by, but it was the Falcons who stole in front just before the half hour mark. Watson laid the foundations when he cut in from the left wing to cause havoc in the Exeter defence – and although he was felled in plenty of time – the hosts recycled the ball well through a series of phases, creating the opening for hooker Lawson to sneak over from close range.
Undeterred, the Chiefs regathered themselves well after Delany missed the routine conversion and following a sustained spell of pressure they regained the lead just before the break.
Two line-out drives got them on the move, before they went through a plethora of attacking waves to force another penalty. Again it went to the corner through skipper Steenson, Jonny Hill won the resultant line-out, and when the shove came on from his fellow forward, there was Waldrom emerging from the bottom of the heap, producing his trademark ‘Toot Toot’ celebration.
Irishman Steenson was again on hand to slot the additional extras and give his side a six-point cushion at the turn.
HALF TIME NEWCASTLE FALCONS 6 EXETER CHIEFS 14
Having kicked the final points of the first half, Steenson was first out the blocks in the second period, increasing his side’s lead when he banged over a 35-metre penalty after the Falcons had strayed offside in midfield.
Delany responded almost immediately with an identical kick for the Northerners after Whitten was adjudged to have not rolled away from the tackle zone.
As both sides looked to wrestle a grip on proceedings, the Chiefs twice went close to adding a third try as first Dollman was held up just short of the line, and then the Falcons did well to repel another Exeter driving maul which seemed destined to cross.
The Chiefs had the bit between their teeth and with Woodburn and Short both making heavy inroads with counter breaks, so the pressure began to mount on Dean Richards’ side. Initially they did well to counter the Exeter threat, but when Calum Green cyncially brought down a maul just yards from the line, he was sent to the sin-bin for ten minutes and Steenson slotted the resultant penalty.
With the man advantage the Chiefs should really have kicked on, but instead they allowed the Falcons to hit back when a strong burst from flanker Mark Wilson saw him create the opening for full-back Tait to glide over with relative ease. Again, though, Delany could not add the conversion, much to the disappointment of the home faithful.
At the other end, Steenson showed his opposite number how he it should be done, adding a third conversion of the night when Short was on hand to finish off a stunning handling move from the Westcountry outfit that made it 27-16.
Delany briefly countered with a penalty, but that would be as good as it got for the Falcons in the closing quarter as the Chiefs began to flex their muscle.
Dollman thought he has claimed the all-important bonus point late on, but his effort was chalked off on review by the TMO.
Thankfully, it didn’t prove too costly for the visitors as in the dying minutes they came together once more, this time stealing a home line-out, winning a penalty, which Steenson again kicked for the corner. Now with the perfect launchpad from which to strike, the initial drive was held, before Chudley took command, sniping around the blindside to sink his former club with a score in the right corner.
The Chiefs coaching staff, as you would expect, erupted with delight, knowing not only was the five points in the bag, but the winning formula in the Premiership had once more been rediscovered.
Newcastle Falcons: A Tait; M Watson, D Waldouck, JP Socino, Sinoti Sinoti (V Goneva 63); M Delany (J Hodgson 73), M Young; S Lockwood (R Vickers 55), S Lawson, J Welsh (D Wilson 68); C Green (G Young 68), W Witty; M Wilson, W Welch (capt, D Nelson 80), A Hogg (O Fonua 68). Replacement (not used): S Egerton
Tries – Lawson, Tait; Penalties – Delany (3)
Yellow Card: Green
Exeter Chiefs: P Dollman (L Turner 75); O Woodburn, O Devoto, I Whitten, J Short; G Steenson (capt, J Simmonds 79), W Chudley (J Maunder 79); B Moon (C Rimmer 59), J Yeandle (S Malton 79), H Williams (G Holmes 59); M Lees, J Hill (G Parling 63); D Dennis (B White 75), K Horstmann, T Waldrom.
Tries – Devoto, Waldrom, Short, Chudley; Conversions – Steenson (3); Penalties – Steenson (2)
Referee: T Wigglesworth