They may have gone above defending champions Saracens and into second place in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table, but Exeter Chiefs assistant coach Ali Hepher is taking no notice of league position.
Chiefs put in a strong second half display to beat Newcastle Falcons after the sides had shared four first-half tries.
Vereniki Goneva and Rob Vickers went over for the visitors, while James Short and Harry Williams were the men on the money for Chiefs.
But three unanswered scores in the second period, from Sam Skinner, a penalty try and a second for Short, gave Chiefs a comfortable victory.
— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) February 25, 2017
Hepher is not reading much into their league table though, instead he was just pleased with his side’s response after a poor start.
“Moving one point into second and above Saracens at this stage is not important as the top four places are really tight but we are hoping to remain there and to secure a top two finish would be really nice,” he admitted.
“Newcastle are a good side and in good form and came here with a good deal of confidence but we started poorly, especially in defence.
“We were hesitant in that first half particularly when we had ball in hand as we needed to run hard instead of trying the clever ball.
“There was plenty to address at half-time but our defence was outstanding in that second half and to earn a bonus point was invaluable.”
A big thank you to our good friends @ExeterChiefs for the welcome today, and well done on the win.
— Newcastle Falcons (@FalconsRugby) February 25, 2017
Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards may have been pleased with his side’s start to the game, but he claims there was no excuse for missed passes and handling errors, despite the weather conditions.
“We are disappointed with it, to be honest,” he said. “We started off well but, even in that first half, we were inaccurate to the point where we allowed them back into the game.
“We should have taken more of our try-scoring opportunities and, had we done so, we would have been a couple scores up at half-time.
“That would have been more of a measure of where we were, and was ultimately what caused us to lose the game.
“Yes the wind was strong, but it was strong for both teams and you have got to make the most of it.
“We had too many kicks which went straight into touch, too many unforced errors and we tried to force the offload on too many occasions.”
— Matt Jess (@mattjess14) February 25, 2017
Exeter Chiefs: Dollman, Woodburn, Whitten, Devoto (Hill 57), Short, Simmonds (Hooley 73), Maunder (Townsend 57), Moon (Rimmer 61), Yeandle (Malton 72), Williams (Low 73), Lees (Atkins 75), Parling, Horstmann (Skinner 72), Armand, Waldrom.
Newcastle Falcons: Tait, Goneva, Harris, Waldouck (Burdon 70), Sinoti, Hodgson (Delany 57), S Takulua (Egerton 70), Vickers (Harris 57), Sowrey (Lawson 57), Wilson (Wilson 46), Green, Olmstead (Lawson 70), Chick, Welch, Latu (Hogg 64).
Tries: Short, Williams, pen, Skinner, Short
Con: Simmonds (4)
Tries: Goneva, Vickers
Con: Takulua (2)
Referee: Ian Tempest