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Aviva Premiership: Exeter beat Newcastle to end losing run
- Festive fancies
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Exeter Chiefs remained in the hunt for a top-six Aviva Premiership finish with a 16-3 win against Newcastle Falcons at Sandy Park.
The Chiefs looked to be taking a 9-0 lead into the break after fly-half Gareth Steenson, with the wind at his back, landed three penalties - but on the stroke of half-time his opposite Phil Godman pulled back three points for the visitors.
Hayden Thomas crossed for the only try of the game on 51 minutes and Steenson added the simple conversion for the only points of the second half.
Exeter went into this match having lost their last five contests in all tournaments, including at home against Saracens in the Aviva Premiership and Toulon in the Heineken Cup.
The Chiefs made a handful of changes to their starting line-up with Damian Welch, Ben White and Kai Horstmann all returning in the pack and Steenson returning after injury at fly-half with Sam Hill in the centre.
Newcastle beat Italian outfit Calvisano home and away over the last two weekends in the Amlin Challenge Cup but have not been victorious in the Premiership since London Irish visited Kingston Park on November 10.
The return of Scotland scrum-half Mike Blair was one of six changes made by the Falcons, with Danny Barnes in the centre and Ryan Shortland on the wing. In the pack Kieran Brookes was tighthead prop, Carlo del Fava at lock and Ally Hogg at number eight.
The first points came when scrum-half Thomas had the ball knocked from his grasp at the back of a ruck and fly-half Steenson slotted the ball between the sticks.
The Chiefs maintained the pressure with the referee playing advantage but play was pulled back when the touch judge noticed a high tackle from outside centre Danny Barnes on Thomas and Steenson landed his second penalty.
The Chiefs defence was tested as they halted a catch and drive on the line. When the home side mounted a counter-attack through Jack Nowell, the wing was shoulder charged by Barnes when chasing his kick ahead, allowing Steenson to kick his third penalty.
With his side trailing 9-0 and unable to breach the Chiefs defence, Falcons' director of rugby Dean Richards was down at pitchside very early for half-time to question some of the decisions of referee Greg Garner with the fourth official.
Dave Ewers was penalised for not releasing at the tackle and Scottish international Godman reduced the arrears at the break with what proved to be the visitors' only points.
Steenson had an opportunity to restore a nine-point advantage - but his 25-metre penalty attempt was held up by the strong wind and the ball fell short.
However, the home side continued to pin the visitors back in front of a crowd of 8,955.
Then came the decisive moment of the second half, when Thomas dummied and found a gap to score the first try of the game, with Steenson able to add the extra two points.
The Falcons came back into the game but their efforts to claim a losing bonus point came to nothing again due to unforced errors and a strong Chiefs defence.Aviva Premiership. Click here to bet.
|Friday 13th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|19:45||Northampton vs London Irish|
|Saturday 14th February|
|16:30||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 15th February|
|13:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|Friday 20th February|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Wasps|
|Saturday 21st February|
|14:00||Sale vs Saracens|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Exeter|
|15:00||Gloucester vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Bath vs Northampton|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|14:00||London Irish vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Sale|
|19:45||Northampton vs Harlequins|
|Saturday 28th February|
|14:30||London Welsh vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Newcastle|
|15:15||Exeter vs Bath|
|Sunday 1st March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Gloucester|
|Friday 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Northampton|
|Sunday 8th March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Leicester|
|Saturday 28th March|
|14:00||Sale vs Gloucester|
|Sunday 11th January|
|London Irish 28 - 26 Exeter|
|Newcastle 38 - 7 London Welsh|
|Saturday 10th January|
|Harlequins 32 - 12 Leicester|
|Bath 39 - 26 Wasps|
|Sale Sharks 20 - 7 Northampton|
|Friday 9th January|
|Gloucester 24 - 23 Saracens|
|Sunday 4th January|
|London Welsh 13 - 24 Harlequins|
|Wasps 41 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Leicester 17 - 8 Bath|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|Exeter 25 - 26 Gloucester|
|Saracens 22 - 6 London Irish|
|Friday 2nd January|
|Northampton 39 - 31 Newcastle|
|Sunday 28th December|
|Gloucester 23 - 30 Wasps|
|Saturday 27th December|
|Harlequins 25 - 30 Northampton|
|Newcastle 23 - 25 Saracens|
|Bath 31 - 14 Exeter|
|Sale Sharks 30 - 32 Leicester|
|Friday 26th December|
|London Irish 24 - 9 London Welsh|
|Sunday 21st December|
|Wasps 48 - 16 London Irish|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale 18 - 11 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com