Falcons claim table-toppers Exeter' scalp
PREMIERSHIP MATCH REPORT: Sparkling first-half scores from Sinoti Sinoti, Vereniki Goneva and Kyle Cooper inspired Newcastle Falcons to 28-20 win over table-toppers Exeter Chiefs.
A stirring blitz within the opening 40 minutes proved enough for Dean Richards’ troops to claim a sixth successive victory in all competitions at the expense of the reigning champions.
Toby Flood and Gareth Steenson exchanged early penalties and after the latter twice turned down further opportunities to take aim at the posts, the Falcons took flight in spectacular fashion.
With 23 minutes gone, Newcastle snatched possession back from Exeter, allowing winger Sinoti to glide past James Short before showing a clean pair of heels to two despairing Chiefs for the opening try of the contest.
In a flash, the home side quickly extended their advantage to 15-3, another interception allowing Goneva to travel a full 60 metres before dotting down to place the Falcons firmly in the ascendancy, Joel Hodgson converting with his first touch of the game
On the half-hour mark, Hodgson, who had been brought on for the injured Flood, bisected the posts to put Newcastle 15 points to the good and with the break looming, there was further joy for the men in black.
From a lineout, Niki Latu was influential as the Falcons went through the phases before teeing up hooker Cooper to bundle over, Hodgson converting to leave Exeter facing their third-biggest half-time deficit in Premiership Rugby.
Five minutes after the restart, Exeter forced Sam Simmonds over from a quick tap penalty to hit back at long last but their efforts to hit back from thereon were met by a steadfast defensive effort from Newcastle.
With 13 minutes to go, Olly Woodburn shot over the whitewash from a scrum while late in the game, Toby Salmon also drove over to chip away at the deficit but the Falcons had done more than enough to claim a fine victory, Hodgson’s last-gasp penalty garnishing the scoreline
For Newcastle Falcons:
Tries: Sinoti, Goneva, Cooper
Cons: Hodgson 2
Pens: Flood, Hodgson 2
For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries: Simmonds, Woodburn, Salmon
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Michael Young, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Gary Graham, 6 Will Welch (captain), 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Sam Lockwood, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Evan Olmstead, 20 Nili Latu, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Juan Pablo Socino
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 James Short, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Nic White, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Ollie Atkins, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle (captain), 1 Alec Hepburn
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Toby Salmon, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Phil Dollman
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales and John Meredith.
TMO: Stuart Terheege