Newcastle Falcons paid the price for a slow start, according to director of rugby Dean Richards, after they were comfortably beaten by Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park.
Thomas Waldrom notched his tenth Aviva Premiership Rugby try of the season, while Jack Nowell, Henry Slade and a penalty try ensured the Chiefs had the bonus point wrapped up by half-time.
Newcastle had found their scoring boots in recent weeks, picking up a try bonus point in each of their last six matches, and duly responded after the break – Ruki Tipuna and Will Welch both crossing the whitewash.
But Phil Dollman and Haydn Thomas added further sheen to the scoreline to ensure the Falcons remain 11th in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table and Richard believes his side must be quicker out of the blocks if they are to find success in the coming weeks.
“We didn't turn-up on the day – the first half was key to everything,” he said. “We knew it was going to be physical but our boys weren't as physical as they should have been on the day.
“We allowed Exeter to be precise and defensively we were very weak. We didn't make our tackles; we were very soft in the collisions and allowed them to go forward. If you allow that, then they will take the opportunities all day long.
“We've done well over the past few months but the Premiership is one of those unforgiving places – it is probably the most difficult club competition in the world – but Exeter have certainly brought us back down to earth.”
The victory means Exeter rise, temporarily at least, to third in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table as well as bringing an end to their four-match losing run in the competition.
And director of rugby Rob Baxter believes the fact his troops were able to eliminate the careless mistakes that had plagued them in recent times bodes very well for the future.
“The important thing is that we have talked about for a number of weeks, particularly after that last Premiership block, is how important it is to get the detail right on a regular basis and I thought that is what we did in this game,” explained Baxter.
“We had a good training week so dealt with a lot of detail of what we wanted to achieve and really all we did was go out there and put it into action.
“After a long trip, like Newcastle to Exeter, you have to hit the pitch in exactly the right frame of mind.
“I know that Deano (Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards) is slightly frustrated and probably feels that his side didn't quite get out of the blocks. On the other hand I'm feeling that we hit the ground running and looked sharp and hungry.”
Exeter Chiefs: Dollman, Whitten (McGuigan 63), Nowell, Hill, Jess, Slade (Steenson 60), Chudley (Thomas 55), Waldrom, White (Johnson 62), Ewers (Lees 60), Welch, Mumm, Francis (Brown 60), Cowan-Dickie (Yeandle 51), Moon (Rimmer 51)
Newcastle Falcons: Hammersley, Sinoti, Powell (Tiesi 56), Socino, Tuilagi (Tait 41), Catterick, Blair (Tipuna 49), Hogg (Mayhew 49), Welch, Wilson (Irving 71), MacLeod, Green (Barrow 41), Orlandi (Wilson 41), Lawson (Hawkins 17), Vickers
Tries: Nowell, Slade, Penalty, Waldrom, Dollman, Thomas
Conversions: Slade 4, Steenson
Penalties: Slade 2
Tries: Tipuna, Welch
Conversions: Catterick 2
Referee: Thomas Foley
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