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Newcastle shock Exeter as late penalty seals one-point win

By PA
Brett Connon kicked Newcastle to a late win over Exeter (PA)

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Newcastle earned their first win at Exeter at the 14th attempt as Brett Connon’s late penalty stunned the Chiefs.

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It was a third defeat in four home games for the Devon side, following on from their losses to Northampton and London Irish.

Newcastle made a very bright start and took an eighth-minute lead when they boldly turned down a kickable penalty and went to the corner, with the catch-and-drive finished off by hooker George McGuigan, with Joel Hodgson adding the conversion on his 150th competitive appearance for the Falcons.

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Both sides suffered injury blows close to the midway point of the half, with Exeter losing former Falcons lock Will Witty to an ankle injury while Newcastle prop Richard Palframan went off with a lower leg problem.

It was an error-strewn affair, particularly from the hosts, but approaching the break Newcastle enjoyed a period of intense pressure on the Exeter line, winning numerous scrums and line-outs.

However, the Chiefs’ defence remained rock solid and the Falcons went away empty-handed.

It was to prove costly for the visitors as, right on the stroke of half-time, Newcastle defended stoutly against a series of pick-and-go-moves before Exeter moved the ball away from the forwards and back-in-form Joe Simmonds – playing out of position at full-back – went over beneath the posts for a try which he converted himself to leave it all tied up at 7-7 at the break.

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It took only five minutes of the second half for Exeter to introduce last season’s top Premiership try scorer Sam Simmonds from the bench after his release from the England camp.

Within five minutes he played a big part in putting Exeter in front for the first time in the game with a couple of big carries, before fellow back-rower Don Armand forced his way over from close range, with Joe Simmonds converting for a 14-7 lead.

Exeter lost England winger Jack Nowell to the sin bin in the 55th minute after a deliberate knock-on following a dazzling run by Hodgson, who was having an impressive game.

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From the resultant penalty, which they kicked to the corner, Newcastle swiftly moved the ball to the blindside from the driving maul for Ben Stevenson to cross where Nowell would have been standing. Hodgson missed the conversion, though, and Exeter still had their noses in front.

Exeter had a major let-off 13 minutes from time when Hodgson missed a 30-metre penalty in front of the posts after Newcastle had pushed Exeter off their own ball at a scrum.

However, the Chiefs gave their visitors another opportunity soon after and Connon slotted the 45-metre kick to edge Newcastle one point ahead with eight minutes remaining, and ultimately clinch victory.

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