Exeter Chiefs 36 Falcons 14

Saturday 25 February 2017 Written by: Adam

Despite flying out of the blocks they trailed 17-14 at the interval, the Aviva Premiership finalists having too much for them as Newcastle’s win-less run in Devon continued.

Playing with a strong wind behind them in the first half, the Falcons got off to a positive start when Exeter knocked-on inside their own 22 from the kick-off.

The home side’s defence held out on that occasion as patient phases were met with an organised response, but the visitors took the lead on five minutes when Vereniki Goneva scored in the right corner from a flowing move which included a midfield break from Calum Green and quick hands out wide.

Sonatane Takulua converted magnificently from the right touchline, an end-to-end passage delivering an equalising try for the Chiefs on 14 minutes.

That was when Goneva intercepted and raced 60 metres down the right wing, almost feeding Alex Tait for a second Falcons try. But an eager Exeter outfit snaffled back possession, in-form wing James Short running the length of the field to draw level at 7-7.

Newcastle restored their seven-point supremacy on 23 minutes when a cutting run from Callum Chick punctured a gaping hole through the home defence, and from a ruck close to the try-line there was only one outcome as Rob Vickers poached yet another converted try from trademark range.

Exeter responded when patient phase play in the Newcastle 22 eventually brought a try for prop Harry Williams from a similar pick-and-go, Simmonds adding the conversion and a 40th-minute penalty to take a 17-14 half-time lead after a breathless opening period.

Playing into the teeth of a strong gale during the second half, the Falcons began by keeping the ball in hand and winning a midfield penalty thanks to the keen ruck work of Tongan No 8 Nili Latu.

Keeping the ball alive with their ambitious offloading game, a scrum on halfway saw the ball spun right to Harris and Goneva as the men from Kingston Park looked to exploit space and stay true to their attacking principles despite the difficult conditions.

Fizzling out on that occasion, Newcastle were forced into defensive mode for prolonged periods in a passage which ended with the hosts being awarded a penalty try from repeated re-set scrums on 56 minutes.

Simmonds’ conversion took the gap out to 10 points, the Falcons chancing their arm through yet another Goneva line-break around the hour mark as Exeter scrambled and defused the attack.

Replacement Sam Skinner earned the Chiefs a four-try bonus point when turnover ball close to Newcastle’s line was worked infield, Short completing the scoring with his second try as he chased a grubber to the left corner with the final play.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Alex Tait: 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Dominic Waldouck (Fred Burdon, 71), 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson (Mike Delany, 56), 9 Sonatane Takulua (Sam Egerton, 71); 1 Rob Vickers (Ben Harris, 56), 2 Ben Sowrey (Scott Lawson, 56), 3 Scott Wilson (David Wilson, 40), 4 Calum Green, 5 Evan Olmstead (Glen Young, 71), 6 Callum Chick, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Nili Latu (Ally Hogg, 65).

**Falcons scorers -** Tries: Vereniki Goneva, Rob Vickers. Conversions: Sonatane Takulua 2.

**Exeter Chiefs:** 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Ollie Devoto (Sam Hill, 50), 11 James Short, 10 Joe Simmonds (Will Hooley, 72), 9 Jack Maunder (Stuart Townsend, 56); 1 Ben Moon (Carl Rimmer, 61), 2 Jack Yeandle (captain, Shaun Malton, 72), 3 Harry Williams, 4 Mitch Lees (Ollie Atkins, 75), 5 Geoff Parling, 6 Kai Horstmann (Sam Skinner, 72), 7 Don Armand, 8 Thomas Waldrom.

**Chiefs scorers -** Tries: James Short 2, Harry Williams, Penalty try, Sam Skinner. Conversions: Joe Simmonds 3, Will Hooley. Penalties: Joe Simmonds.

**Referee:** Ian Tempest.