Below-par Exeter battle past Newcastle

Date published: September 21 2018

Exeter Chiefs battled to their fourth successive Premiership victory of the campaign after overcoming a gallant Newcastle Falcons 24-17 at Kingston Park.

The Falcons had an outstanding start when Zach Kibirige, who was a late change for the injured Alex Tait, touched down, but Rob Baxter’s men soon took command.

Sam Simmonds went over twice for a 14-7 lead before Toby Flood’s penalty kept Dean Richards’ team in the contest at the interval.

Joe Simmonds and Flood traded penalties in the final 40 minutes, but the scores were level going into the last quarter after Johnny Williams’ try.

In typical fashion from the 2017 champions, they lifted the intensity and won the game through Matt Kvesic, who burrowed across the line and maintained their perfect opening to the campaign.

Exeter have started the season in fine form but they were made to work by the hosts, who stunned the Chiefs by opening the scoring after two minutes.

It came from slack defence by the visitors, when Williams pierced the rearguard far too easily, but the centre then produced a brilliant offload to send Kibirige scampering clear. The wing duly stepped the final defender and crossed the whitewash unopposed for a 7-0 buffer.

The Falcons secured an excellent victory in the corresponding fixture last season, primarily due to a blistering first-half performance, but this time the visitors managed to halt the Tynesiders’ momentum.

They won the restart and went on the attack. As is their wont, Baxter’s charges went through the phases and Simmonds was on hand to cross the whitewash from close range.

Ollie Atkins was then denied a try by the TMO before Exeter’s number eight added to his remarkable try-scoring record as the home side failed to stop the West Countrymen’s impressive maul.

Although Flood reduced the arrears at the end of the half, the Chiefs opened the second period on the front foot and Joe Simmonds rewarded their endeavour with a penalty.

However, they failed to truly benefit from their possession and territory when Newcastle clinically took their first opportunity after the break. The hosts showed patience with the ball and their fly-half’s excellent pass opened the space for Tom Arscott before the wing fed Williams to score.

The Falcons were in the ascendency but the 2017 champions regained their composure and got to within inches of the opposition line. Under pressure, Flood infringed – receiving a yellow card for his indiscretion – and the visitors benefited with Kvesic going over, sealing the win.

The scorers:

For Newcastle:
Tries: Kibirige, Williams
Cons: Flood 2
Pen: Flood
Yellow Card: Flood

For Exeter:
Tries: S Simmonds 2, Kvesic
Cons: J Simmonds 2, Steenson
Pen: J Simmonds

Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Tom Arscott, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Gary Graham, 5 Will Witty, 4 Calum Green, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Adam Brocklebank
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Sami Mavinga, 18 Jack Payne, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Callum Chick, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Tom Penny

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Alex Cuthbert, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Don Armand (c), 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Ollie Atkins, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Dave Dennis, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 Sam Maunder, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Sam Hill

Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant referees: Hamish Smales, John Meredith
TMO: Graham Hughes