'They've always been my tip to win the title... there's no reason to change it now'
Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards tipped Exeter to take the Gallagher Premiership title after seeing his weakened side thrashed 74-3 in a 12-try demolition at Sandy Park.
The score equalled Exeter’s best tally in the Premiership with the 74 points also scored against London Welsh in March 2015 when their opponents picked up 19 points in reply.
Jacques Vermeulen and Henry Slade both scored two tries, with Sam Skinner, Sam Simmonds, Alex Cuthbert, Stuart Hogg, Harvey Skinner, Dave Ewers, Tom O’Flaherty and Joe Simmonds also going over and Joe Simmonds added seven conversions.
A penalty from Toby Flood was Newcastle’s sole response.
Richards said: “Exeter are a top team and they’ve always been my tip to win the title and there’s no reason to change it now. However they won’t have learnt a lot from today as their big battles will come over the next few weeks.
“The Premiership didn’t do us much of a favour in sending us on our longest trip over the Bank Holiday with a six day turnaround.
“You have to prioritise fixtures and we are still in with a chance of a place in Europe by finishing eighth so we have two left games starting with Worcester next Saturday, which is our main aim with a crowd coming in.
“It was a good opportunity to rest a few players with niggles and I thought the boys stuck it well and played some good stuff at times.
“We had to play a lot of boys with very limited Premiership experience so we obviously knew it would be very difficult and needed a miracle.”
Exeter head coach Ali Hepher praised his side’s professionalism.
“It’s always tough to play against changed-up sides but we kept our heads on the task in hand and did the simple basics well.
“We didn’t throw any wild passes and kept our structure throughout.”
“It has benefitted us that we were knocked out of Europe as we have been able to fit some spare time into our plans.”
“We are comfortable going away to any team in the Premiership but it would be nice to get a home semi-final for our fans but we still have two tough games to play.”
After being at the centre of a media storm this week over his comments on his Covid vaccination, Exeter centre Slade picked up the man of the match award by scoring two tries.
Hepher said: “Henry showed good character and he has one of the highest skill-sets in world rugby.
“His ability to play what’s around him and put people into space is phenomenal and second to none.”
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