Exeter 14 Falcons 15

Saturday 06 November 2021 Written by: Adam

A Brett Connon penalty 10 minutes from time sealed a memorable win, the sides having been level at 7-7 at the midway stage.

The Falcons flew out of the blocks and had themselves off to the ideal start, kicking a seventh-minute penalty to the left corner and reaping the rewards as George McGuigan steered a well-constructed driving maul over the try-line.

Joel Hodgson added the conversion on the day of his 150th appearance for the club, and the visitors were showing equal potency in defence as Will Montgomery’s tackle at the back of a close-range line-out ensured the Chiefs came away empty-handed when they kicked a penalty into the corner.

Penetrative running from Mike Brown, Nathan Earle and Ben Stevenson threated a second try for the Falcons around the 15-minute mark as they made multiple forays in behind the home defence, but they had to turn to their bench early when an injury to prop Richard Palframan brought Logovi’i Mulipola into the fray before the quarter mark.

It did not seem to be breaking the Falcons’ stride as they embarked on a sustained period of red-zone pressure, camping themselves in the Chiefs’ 22 and winning repeated penalties.

Crucially, they could not make their dominance count on the scoreboard, and the hosts restored parity with the last play of the half when repeated close-range pick-and-go work sucked in the defensive numbers – the ball eventually being flung wide from the right to Joe Simmonds, who scored between the posts.

Simmonds converted his own try for a 7-7 half-time score-line, elder brother Sam entering the fray for the final 35 minutes.

Newcastle strived to find another in-road via a well-worked move at the back of a line-out on the Chiefs’ 22, only to concede a penalty at ruck time, and they trailed for the first time of the night on 51 minutes when Don Armand scored from a pick-and-go down the left-hand side.

Joe Simmonds slotted the conversion, but his side were reduced to 14 men when Jack Nowell was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on from a Hodgson quick tap.

The visitors made their numerical advantage count almost instantly, kicking a penalty to the corner from which Ben Stevenson scored after a trick play at the front of the line-out.

The missed conversion left Exeter in front by two points, and another opportunity went begging on 67 minutes when Hodgson fired wide with a penalty from 25 metres out following a dominant Newcastle scrum.

Replacement fly-half Brett Connon came on for last 11 minutes and introduced himself in some style, sending over a 45-metre penalty from wide out on the left-hand side to give his side a one-point lead.

It was enough to seal a monumental result, his side holding out in a heroic last stand.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Mike Brown, 14 Nathan Earle (Tom Penny, 69), 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Joel Hodgson (Brett Connon, 69), 9 Louis Schreuder (Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 66); 1 Adam Brocklebank (Kyle Cooper, 62), 2 George McGuigan, 3 Richard Palframan (Logovi’i Mulipola, 19), 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Will Montgomery (Gary Graham, 71), 6 Philip van der Walt, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Carl Fearns (Callum Chick (48).

**Scorers -** Tries: George McGuigan, Ben Stevenson. Conversions: Joel Hodgson. Penalties: Brett Connon.

**Exeter Chiefs:** 15 Joe Simmonds, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Tom Hendrickson, 12 Ollie Devoto (Ian Whitten, 62), 11 Josh Hodge, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Jack Maunder (Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 67); 1 Alec Hepburn (Ben Moon, 67), 2 Jack Yeandle, 3 Harry Williams (Josh Iosefa-Scott, 60), 4 Will Witty (Christ Tshiunza, 18), 5 Sean Lonsdale, 6 Jannes Kirsten, 7 Don Armand, 8 Richard Capstick (Sam Simmonds, 45).

**Scorers -** Tries: Joe Simmonds, Don Armand. Conversions: Joe Simmonds 2.

**Referee:** Andrew Jackson. **Attendance:** 9,376.