Newcastle Falcons v Exeter Chiefs preview

Newcastle Falcons head coach Alan Tait has made two changes for Friday’s crucial Aviva Premiership match against Exeter at Kingston Park.

Kiwi full back Jeremy Manning makes the bench following an arm injury sustained at London Irish last week, with Scotland international Euan Murray making a welcome return to the front row.

Lancastrian second rower Glen Townson and centre James Fitzpatrick are named on the bench.

On Manning’s inclusion amongst the replacements, Tait said: “Jeremy’s responding well to treatment and on the advice of the medical staff we are giving him as long as possible to recover.”

Newcastle Falcons’ solo victory in their last seven matches in all competitions was two weeks ago at home to this weekend’s opponents Exeter in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

The Falcons’ only win in Aviva Premiership Rugby since 10 September was at home to Gloucester on 21 November.

Exeter Chiefs’ last six games in all competitions have all been won by the home team on the day. Exeter have won just once on the road in the Premiership: 23-9 at Saracens on 30 October.

The two Premiership teams who are geographically the furthest apart have already met four times this season in three separate competitions with honours being shared two wins apiece and all fixture being won by the club with home field advantage.

These two sides have met four times already this season – the head-to-head reads two wins apiece – it’s this latest encounter at Kingston Park which is sure to prove the most important of all the meetings.

Last Saturday Baxter watched on with great satisfaction as his side chalked up their sixth league win of the season with a 20-6 home win over Harlequins, who themselves had arrived in Devon sporting a nine-game unbeaten run.

Now, though, the Exeter boss wants his troops to replicate their efforts in the North East. He said: “The nice thing is it’s another new challenge for us and it’s going to be interesting to see how we front up to it. Going to Newcastle at eight o’clock on a Friday night is a tough place to go and play.

“This week we’re playing against a team which has different aspirations to Harlequins. Last week Harlequins came here talking about top four rugby, but now we are going to Newcastle who are at the other end of the table and fighting for survival. That’s a tough old battle, but it is going to be an interesting one to see how we front up.

Baxter added: “We talked after the Harlequins game and said the disappointment would be if we don’t follow it up.”

Not surprisingly Baxter has named an unchanged starting XV for Friday’s match. The only change he makes comes on the bench where Argentine prop Ignacio Elosu is called up for the injured Hoani Tui.

The Bookies have given Exeter Chiefs a 2 point start for this match – Free £ 25 bet for new customers.

Match : Newcastle Falcons v Exeter Chiefs
Date : Friday 18th February
Venue : Kingston Park
Kick Off : 8pm
Referee: Sean Davey (95th Premiership game)


Newcastle:15 Alex Tait , 14 Luke Fielden , 13 Luke Eves , 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu , 11 Gcobani Bobo , 10 Jimmy Gopperth , 9 Micky Young , 1 Jon Golding , 2 Matt Thompson , 3 Euan Murray , 4 James Hudson , 5 Andrew Van der Heijden , 6 Tim Swinson , 7 Will Welch , 8 Ally Hogg

Replacements:16 Rob Vickers , 17 Kieran Brookes , 18 Grant Shiells , 19 Glen Townson , 20 Mark Wilson , 21 Hall Charlton , 22 James Fitzpatrick , 23 Jeremy Manning ,

Exeter Chiefs : 15 Luke Arscott , 14 Matt Jess , 13 Jason Shoemark , 12 Sireli Naqelevuki , 11 Nic Sestaret , 10 Gareth Steenson , 9 Haydn Thomas , 1 Brett Sturgess , 2 Neil Clark , 3

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