Newcastle Falcons 28 – 20 Exeter Chiefs, Jan 2018

Exeter Chiefs, the runaway league leaders, were suffocated by a ferocious Falcons, as seven-match unbeaten league run comes to an end.

At a freezing Kingston park, Newcastle did to an uncharacteristically lacklustre Exeter what the Chiefs did to everyone else on their way to the top of the Premiership tree. Dean Richards’ men harried and hassled, closed down the space and applied so much pressure that it suffocated the champions and forced errors upon which the Falcons greedily seized.

The result was three first-half tries that gave the Falcons a 25-3 interval lead which the Premiership leaders would have overhauled with a far perkier second-half performance had the injury-ravaged Falcons not defended with a determination which at times verged on desperation.

After the Chiefs’ first pointless result in 33 games, director of rugby Rob Baxter conceded that his side deserved nothing. As for Newcastle, a sixth successive win moved them to sixth in the Premiership, due reward for a performance of enormous desire and courage.

Despite the freezing temperatures all Falcons fans left the ground with a warm satisfied glow.

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