Simmonds snatches narrow win for Exeter

Callum Chick, Josh Hodge
Newcastle skipper Callum Chick was shown a red card after 25 minutes for a dangerous tackle on Exeter full-back Josh Hodge
New Castle (7) 14
Tries: Haydon-Wood, McGuigan Cons: Haydon Wood 2
Exeters (7) 15
Tries: Schickerling, Innard With: J Simmonds I thought: J Simmonds

Joe Simmonds slotted a penalty with four minutes remaining to give Exeter a narrow win over 14-man Newcastle.

Falcons fly-half Will Haydon-Wood intercepted a pass to open the scoring after 23 minutes before Callum Chick was red-carded for a high tackle.

Close-range tries from Patrick Schickerling and Jack Innard either side of half-time put Exeter 12-7 up.

Newcastle regained the lead through George McGuigan’s barnstorming run before Simmonds snatched victory.

The late defeat was hard on the 14-man Falcons who battled hard on an emotional day when they paid tribute to former coach Steve Black in a minute’s silence before the game and also honored retirement captain Mark Wilson.

Driving rain and strong winds made it a difficult opening, but Haydon-Wood challenged the elements, showing perfect timing to intercept a loose pass and run 80 meters to score the opening try and add the extras himself.

But within two minutes, they lost their captain as Chick was shown a red card after his shoulder made contact with Josh Hodge’s head in a strong tackle as the Chiefs full-back dropped a high ball on the halfway line.

The visitors got on the scoreboard four minutes before the break with Schickerling the beneficiary of a line-out maul. Joe Simmonds kicked the conversion to make it 7-7 at half-time.

Joe Simmonds
Exeter skipper Joe Simmonds kicked the winning penalty and handed his side a vital win

The same tactic led to the Chiefs going ahead four minutes into the second half, with hooker Innard crashing over, but this time Simmonds missed with the boot.

But the 14 men of Newcastle hit back after 57 minutes when McGuigan broke through two tackles to dot the ball down over the line, allowing Haydon-Wood to convert and give the Falcons a 14-12 lead.

Dean Richards’ men held out superbly as Exeter applied wave after wave of pressure but finally gave a scrum penalty away after 76 minutes and Simmonds held his nerve to claim a vital win for Chiefs.

The victory provides a huge boost to Exeter’s play-off ambitions as they move up to fifth, while Newcastle remain 11th and without a league win since 6 November when they beat Exeter by the same 15-14 scoreline at the Chiefs’ Sandy Park.

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter told BBC Radio Devon:

“Massive win for us really. A win away from home in the Premiership is something you’ve got to treasure, we talk about that a lot and we’ve seen it home.

“The big thing is we’ve come out on the right end of a tight one, when you think about how many close ones we’ve lost. The important thing was coming here and showing the character to win the game, we’ve done that and we’ve seen it through and I’m delighted for the guys.

“Were we good today? Not particularly, but we were good in our attitude to win the game. The table can put pressure on you that you have to be able to deal with and I think we did that well and we’ve come through Item.”

New Castle: Brown; Penny, Wacokecoke, Orlando, Earle; Haydon-Wood, Nordli-Kelemeti; Brocklebank, McGuigan, Davison, Peterson, Robinson, Basham, Collett, Chick (capt.).

Replacements: Blamire, Cade, Tampin, Farrar, Montgomery, Hodgson, Burrell, Radwan.

Network card: Chick (24 mins).

Exeters: Hodges; Woodburn, Whitten, Hendrickson, O’Flaherty; J Simmonds (capt), Maunder; Hepburn, Innard, Schickerling, Kirsten, Jenkins, S Skinner, Armand, Capstick.

Replacements: Yeandle, Moon, Street, Pearson, Grondona, Maunder, H Skinner, Cordero.

Referee: Christophe Ridley (RFU).

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