A briliant second half performance from Exeter saw them thump Newcastle 32-17 in the Premiership at Sandy Park on Saturday.
The game was finely poised up until the final quarter before Exeter scored two late tries to move above Saracens at the top of the table, albeit having played one game more.
These sides were much more closely matched than their league positions would have had you believe, but ultimately Newcastle made the long trip back home with nothing to show for their valiant efforts after being levelled 3-all at half-time.
Gareth Steenson's reliable kicking was a fixture of the contest, and it helped him become Exeter's record league point's scorer.
The defeat leaves Newcastle in 11th, eight points clear of London Irish, but also being cut adrift from the rest of the league. Newcastle started the game quietly confident, but a mistake from Nili Latu – knocking on – allowed Steenson the chance to kick three points, an opportunity he took well. Title-chasing Exeter were frustrated in their efforts to add to the early three points, despite dominating much of the possession since Steenson's penalty.
The next points were awarded to Newcastle. From an infringement midway through Exeter's half, Falcons drew level through Mike Delany, and their defensive efforts were enough to carry them level through to the break. Following a solid if not entertaining first period, the second half began with the two teams trading tries.
First, the Chiefs went ahead through Thomas Waldrom, who caught Chris Harris' wayward clearance before going over, with Steenson adding the extras. Then, almost immediately from the restart, Latu's clever play from the scrum led to Sonatane Takulua touching down. Delany levelled the score from the tee. Exeter returned themselves to cap off a frantic five minutes.
Phil Dollman was the man who finished off an excellent team move. Steenson, who helped set up the try with former Newcastle man Will Chudley, kicked the two points.
After a couple of minutes without one, Newcastle notched the afternoon's fourth try through Latu. It came as a result of Takulua's hard work, with Latu crossing the stripe. Delany converted, and the sides were level once more.
The game turned in the home side's favour once Will Welch was sent off for the visitors. Steenson's penalty restored Exeter's lead before a couple of tries from Sam Hill and Elvis Taione, the latter securing a bonus point just before the full-time whistle to take the final score to 32-17.
Tries: Waldrom, Dollman, Hill, Taione
Cons: Steenson 3
Pens: Steenson 2
Tries: Takulua, Latu
Cons: Delany 2
Yellow Card: Welch
Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Ian Whitten, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Will Chudley,
8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Don Armand, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Lewis Stevenson, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle (c), 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione 17 Alec Hepburn 18 Carl Rimmer 19 Ollie Atkins 20 Dave Ewers 21 Dave Lewis 22 Will Hooley 23 Max Bodilly
Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Giamba Venditti, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Nili Latu, 7 Will Welch, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Callum Green, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Mike Cusack, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Alex Rogers.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 19 Richard Mayhew, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Michael Young, 22 Andy Goode, 23 Tom Penny
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Simon McConnell, Kelvin Stewart
TMO: David Rose