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Match Report: Exeter Chiefs 36 Newcastle Falcons 14

25 Feb 2017
Match Report: Exeter Chiefs 36 Newcastle Falcons 14

Exeter Chiefs fought their way to a bonus point victory over Newcastle Falcons to move up to second in Aviva Premiership Rugby.

A thrilling opening forty saw each side score two tries, with Vereniki Goneva and Rob Vickers going over for the visitors, while James Short and Harry Williams were the men on the money for Chiefs.

Exeter successfully stifled the Falcons’ attacking play in the second period, though, and the home side ran out winners thanks to scores from Sam Skinner, a penalty try and Short’s second at the death.

Goneva opened the scoring in the fourth minute, finishing a fine passage of play, as Falcons attacked down the left following a Will Welch interception, before switching play right and getting the Fijian in at the right corner – Sonatane Takulua kicking a fine conversion from the right touchline.

And they could have had a second 14 minutes in, but when Goneva intercepted a pass and broke clear, Alex Tait could only fumble the ball with the try line at his mercy.

Chiefs then punished their wastefulness, recycling the ball and setting Short free, inside his own 22, to run almost the length of the pitch, sidestep Joel Hodgson and go in under the posts to bring to an end a period of six minutes and 12 seconds of unbroken play – Joe Simmonds knocking over the conversion on his first Aviva Premiership Rugby start at ten for Exeter.

But Falcons retook the lead midway through the half, Callum Chick dancing past Chiefs defenders before being stopped just shy of the line, but Vickers was on hand to drive over from less than a metre out – Takalua again adding the extras.

In an entertaining, end-to-end, game it was only fitting that Exeter would get the next score as Chiefs kept play moving with a fine series of offloads, ending in Williams crashing over from close range – Simmonds accurate with the boot in the 35th minute.

And Chiefs got another score to go into the break ahead, Simmonds knocking over a simple penalty with the clock in the red, as Falcons failed to roll away at the breakdown.

After free-flowing rugby in the first half, cold hands led to a number of spilled passes in the opening stages of the second period, with the scrum count rapidly rising.

Chiefs had the chance to extend their lead after 12 second-half minutes, but instead chose to kick for the corner when Kyle Cooper was penalised for an illegal tackle.

And the decision proved fruitful, with five minutes of pressure near the Falcons posts telling as the referee gave a penalty try, just as Thomas Waldrom was set to dot down anyway – Simmonds again successful from the tee.

Try as Falcons might, the open nature of the first half was gone and Chiefs kept them pegged in their own half to go into the final ten minutes, ten points to the good.

And Exeter extinguished any hopes of a Falcons comeback when Mike Delaney fumbled a simple pass on his own five metre line, allowing Skinner in to dot down with ease – earning the bonus point – and Simmonds to add the extras.

They weren’t done there, though, Short grabbing a second with the clock in the red, running on to touch down Will Hooley’s grubber kick.

The conversion attempt was missed but Chiefs had already done enough and took advantage of Saracens’ inability to get the bonus point in their win against Sale Sharks.

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