Radio Exe Match Report: Exeter Chiefs 25 – 16 Newcastle Falcons

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Exeter Chiefs started the Run In to the end of the Gallagher Premiership season with a bonus point win at Sandy Park against Newcastle Falcons in Round 13.

Falcons were quick out of the gate, running ball out to the wide channels within two minutes for Ben Stevenson to use his pace. Having bumped off the attempted tackle of Josh Hodge, the winger had a clear run-in for the opening try which his fly half, Brett Connon converted.

Chiefs responded by gradually moving ball down the field. Taking small yardage at a time, they began a campout in the Falcons’ 22. Two quick taps in a row ultimately punctured the defence. The first take from Richard Capstick was deemed held-up but club captain Jack Yeandle stepped up to take the second. Recycling ball from the hooker’s carry, Greg Fisilau crashed over for the try.

Connon added to Falcons’ lead immediately following the Chiefs score as the opposition received a breakdown penalty on the edge of the Exeter 22, giving the fly-half a clean shot at goal for the three points.

Olly Woodburn had a chance looming on the wing when he received a pass from Harvey Skinner on the Falcons’ 10 metre line. Originally running the ball, the Chiefs winger then dotted the ball onto his boot for the chip and chase. Beat to the ball over the try line by a desperate Newcastle defender, it was a scrum to Chiefs on the five metre.

Falcons lost a leader from the scrum as Guy Pepper was shown a yellow card for preventing Chiefs scrum half Will Becconsall from taking the quick-tap for a penalty to Chiefs off a re-set scrum. The pressure of the scrum weight unfortunately cost Chiefs a man as Josh Iosefa-Scott had to be replaced in the 21st minute with a slight limp to his gait.

It was the ever-lucky bounce of the ball that secured Chiefs’ second of the day. When Joe Hawkins chipped the ball downfield, Elliott Obatoyinbo batted it one-handed from the touchline back into play. Unfortunately for the Falcons man, his pace sent him crashing into the advertising boards, meaning there was no one home to defend from the onrushing Zack Wimbush who grabbed the ball from the floor and placed it over the line.

Having scored the Chiefs’ first, Fisilau was pivotal as the latcher for the third of the day. Playing tight to the Falcons’ line, the forwards initially went for the pick and go option. Picking ball up five metres in-field, Scott Sio drove with Fisilau’s added weight to cross for the try.

A penalty for not rolling away at the ruck was called against Chiefs with five minutes left in the half, allowing Connon to opt for a shot at goal. With the penalty secured, the Falcons were just two points adrift on the scoreboard.

The powerful figure of Rusi Tuima ensured Chiefs had the bonus point score and the lead at the break. Working from a lineout on the Falcons’ five metre line, Chiefs went for the maul drive. Brought down, they recycled first to Jacques Vermeulen before switching ball to the short side for Tuima to burrow over. Hodge took up kicking duties to secure the conversion.

Half-time: Chiefs 22 – 13 Falcons

The second half began in a relatively similar vain to the first as Chiefs took the opening 10 minutes to find their feet. The first chance of the half went to Falcons as they received a penalty for Chiefs offside in their 22. Connon slotted the penalty from close range.

Hodge looked to return the favour as Chiefs were awarded a breakdown penalty on 55 minutes played. He judged the distance well, but the wind curved it and the spin brought the ball rebounding off the left upright. Woodburn was quick into action on the chase and Falcons had to work speedily to clear the danger from their 22.

The second half soon became somewhat turgid as the forwards were repeatedly called in for the harsh carries and crunching tackles in both team’s hunt for some much-needed yards.

Going for the box kicks didn’t prove too profitable for the backs either as the chase from opposition was either too quick or the running rugby option had them running into a defensive wall of bodies.

Falcons were thwarted on the 74th minute as replacement Bryan Byrne, who had only been on the field for a matter of minutes, was shown a yellow card for repeated infringements on the Falcons line as Chiefs looked for a fifth score, though to no reward.

Apart from an impressive one-handed take at the lineout from Falcons’ Sebastian De Chaves, the closing stages of the match saw themselves out with the two sides volleying possession back and forth.

Full-time: Chiefs 25 – 16 Falcons

Chiefs: J Hodge; D John, Z Wimbush, J Hawkins (Rigg 67’), O Woodburn; H Skinner, W Becconsall (Townsend 60’); S Sio (Southworth 67’), J Yeandle (Frost 67’), J Iosefa-Scott (Street 21’), R Tuima (Dunne 75’), L Pearson, J Vermeulen, R Capstick, G Fisilau (Vintcent 60’).

Unused replacements: Haydon-Wood.

Tries: Fisilau, Wimbush, Sio, Tuima Conversions: Hodge Penalties: Hodge

Falcons: E Obatoyinbo; A Radwan, T Penny, R Jennings (Hutchison 62’), B Stevenson (Moroni 43’, Blamire 75’); B Connon, S Stuart (Douglas 78’); A Brocklebank (Brantingham 45’), J Blamire (Byrne 70’), E Bello (Palframan 45’), P van der Walt (Kelly 70’), S de Chaves, F Lockwood (Cross 11’, HIA return 26’, Cross 62’), G Pepper, C Chick.

Tries: Stevenson Conversions: Connon Penalties: Connon 3

Yellow card: Guy Pepper, Bryan Byrne

Referee: Jack Makepeace

Attendance: 11, 490

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