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Exeter crush Newcastle and prove folly of England tour selection

first_img Sign up to the Breakdown for the latest rugby union news Read more Share on Facebook Read more Share on Pinterest Reuse this content Share via Email … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Two potentially gripping semi-finals, two painfully one-sided outcomes. If Saracens were runaway winners in north London, the rumbling Exeter juggernaut proved even harder to stop beside the M5 on a gorgeous afternoon in Devon. Newcastle had made the long trip south with high hopes of troubling the champions; had their outside backs known in advance how infrequently they would touch the ball they would have been sorely tempted to stay at home.The only consolation for the Falcons is that denying the Chiefs a Premiership final appearance is an increasingly tough assignment. Reaching three Premiership finals in a row may not yet compare with Leicester’s remarkable run of nine but Exeter do not look a team, or a club, who are remotely finished yet. Those who reckon Saracens will regain their title this year should not put their mortgage on it.Newcastle were always dogged defensively but were comprehensively battered in virtually every department. The tackle count was nothing short of wince-inducing from a very early stage, the possession stats almost as bad. By half-time the Falcons had already been forced to make 154 tackles to the Chiefs’ nine, with a mere 10 metres of ground gained. Halting Exeter’s momentum is every opposition team’s objective but, on days like this, it is easier said than done. Newcastle Topics Support The Guardian The Observer Share on LinkedIn Premiership Exeter Even when Newcastle did belatedly score a try, through Alex Tait late in the third quarter, the most enduring image was of Lachie Turner hurtling off the line to charge down Toby Flood’s conversion attempt. As a symbol of Exeter’s fitness and unflagging desire with the game already all but won it was hard to beat.If Tait was also guilty of the game’s biggest howler – dropping the ball in the act of touching down over the try-line with no one anywhere near him – the loudest roar was reserved for the spectacular late line-break by Thomas Waldrom, playing his final game in Devon before heading home. Had he finished it off himself, rather than sending Armand under the sticks, it would have been the perfect farewell flourish but there will be another chance at Twickenham next Saturday. Exeter’s footballers, as last year, will be at Wembley two days later for the League Two play-off final; the region’s sports fans now commute up to the smoke on an annual basis around this time of year. It will take a concerted Saracens roadblock to stop the Chiefs from defending their title. The European champions, Leinster, are probably the only team to have outmuscled them in a big game at Sandy Park this season and even then Chiefs were slightly unlucky to lose. They have such depth these days that international quality forwards such as Matt Kvesic cannot even make the bench and local heroes such as Gareth Steenson and Ian Whitten are mere reserves.It provokes the question: how many more of them should be touring South Africa with England next month? Eddie Jones, as things stand, has decided he can do without Don Armand and Alec Hepburn; whatever the tactical reasons, it seems increasingly like a perverse stance. Dave Ewers and Mitch Lees add significant ballast to any pack and the day when Joe Simmonds joins his brother Sam in an England squad may not, on this evidence, be too far away.If any fly-half would have enjoyed such a luxurious armchair ride, Simmonds typifies Exeter’s continuing refusal to stand still. At the heart of their success, on top of the collective organisation, work-rate and positive intent, remains a determination to give opportunities to talented local lads who want it badly enough. The Chiefs may be high flyers these days but they will never abandon their roots.They are smartly coached, too, aware other teams are working hard on ways to stop their driven mauls and continuity game. There were, accordingly, some little variations to the usual theme, designed to keep the Falcons’ defence guessing. At one point the buzzing Nic White stood five metres off a scrum, collected Sam Simmonds’ pass from the base and slung it back to a charging Jack Nowell to explore the blindside. It did not work but it showed a telltale willingness to do something other than the obvious. Share on WhatsApp Share on Messenger Share on Twitter Rugby union features Since you’re here… Exeter ease into final as Don Armand try seals one-sided win over Newcastlelast_img read more

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