Exeter Chiefs through to Premiership final after easing past Newcastle Falcons

Exeter Chiefs 36-5 Newcastle Falcons: The visitors' Premiership play-off debut proved a deflating affair at Sandy Park as the hosts booked their place in the final

Andrew Baldock
Saturday 19 May 2018 18:13
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Olly Woodburn celebrates Exeter's win after the final whistle
Olly Woodburn celebrates Exeter's win after the final whistle

Reigning champions Exeter will face Saracens in next Saturday's Aviva Premiership final at Twickenham after cruising to victory against Newcastle.

The Falcons' Premiership play-off debut proved a deflating affair at Sandy Park as Exeter romped home 36-5.

The Chiefs never looked back after building a 16-point interval advantage through scrum-half Nic White's try, plus three penalties and a conversion from his half-back partner Joe Simmonds.

Newcastle were never remotely allowed into the contest, having to stage a prolonged defensive rearguard as Exeter pulled further away through tries by wing Olly Woodburn and flanker Don Armand, two more penalties and another Simmonds conversion as he finished with 19 points, while Gareth Steenson added the final conversion.

Alex Tait claimed a consolation try for Newcastle, but their impressive campaign - they finished fourth in the table, reached a first league play-off and were European Challenge Cup semi-finalists - ended on an afternoon when they were dominated in every key department.

Don Armand dives over for Exeter

This season's Premiership final will be a repeat of the 2016 title showdown - Saracens beat Exeter 28-20 on that occasion - and will see England's top two teams following the 22-game regular season going head to head.

If Exeter win, they will become only the third club after Leicester, Wasps and Saracens to successfully defend Premiership silverware in the competition's 20-year history.

Exeter monopolised initial exchanges, going through 26 unbroken phases of play at one stage, with England pair Henry Slade and Sam Simmonds prominent as Newcastle were tested defensively.

The Falcons had just seven per cent of possession in the first 10 minutes, and they continued to be pinned inside their own half, making numerous tackles before a second Simmonds penalty took Exeter six points clear.

The Chiefs' relentless grip on proceedings began to take a heavier toll as half-time approached, with Newcastle lock Evan Olmstead being sin-binned by referee Matt Carley for a technical offence and Simmonds completing his penalty hat-trick.

Newcastle also saw prop Scott Wilson carried off after he was on the receiving end of a hefty collision, with David Wilson replacing him following a lengthy delay while the former received treatment.

Joe Simmonds kicks a penalty for the Chiefs

And Exeter finally breached Newcastle's defence a minute before the break following a thrilling move launched from inside his own half by Chiefs full-back Lachie Turner.

The Australian's searing pace caused panic in Newcastle's defence, and after flanker Dave Ewers and Woodburn supported superbly, White touched down between the posts and Simmonds converted for a 16-point lead.

The interval statistics proved overwhelmingly in Exeter's favour, making just 10 tackles compared with Newcastle's 169, while stringing together 189 passes, with Falcons moving the ball just eight times.

Exeter also had the wind behind them for the second period, suggesting that Newcastle would face another long 40 minutes as they struggled to make any impression on proceedings.

Simmonds kicked two more penalties early in the second-half, which effectively killed off any hope of a Newcastle fightback, although substitute Tait claimed a 57th-minute try before fly-half Toby Flood saw his conversion attempt charged down by Turner.

But before Newcastle could threaten any further in-roads, Exeter struck when White broke from the back of a scrum and sent Woodburn over in the corner for a touchdown that Simmonds converted magnificently from the touchline.

And Newcastle's misery was completed when Tait dropped the ball in the act of touching down for what would have been his second try three minutes from time.

PA

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