Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Premiership preview

Exeter Chiefs began their second Premiership campaign in the best possible way on Saturday, by beating Leicester at Welford Road for the first time ever.

The Chiefs have won three successive Aviva Premiership Rugby matches and have never won four consecutive games in the competition.

Newcastle Falcons have lost their last eight Premiership matches – their poorest run in the history of the tournament. The Falcons’ only away victory in the Premiership since April 2010 was at Leeds Carnegie in February.

The two teams met on an incredible five occasions last season, with the Chiefs taking three wins to two by the Falcons. Exeter won both encounters played at Sandy Park: 22-17 in the Premiership and 36-10 in the European Challenge Cup.

Tom Johnson is poised to become the latest addition to Exeter’s Centurion Club when he runs out in Saturday’s Aviva Premiership clash with Newcastle Falcons at Sandy Park.

Johnson will line-up in an Exeter team that shows two changes from the side that opened their Premiership campaign last Saturday with a 30-28 victory at Leicester Tigers.

Missing is injured lock James Hanks, so club captain Tom Hayes is promoted from the bench to partner Peter Short in the second row – and summer signing Aly Muldowney comes into the Chiefs squad for the first time since moving from Glasgow Warriors.

The other change sees Phil Dollman come in at full-back for the injured Luke Arscott. The former Bristol and Plymouth Albion back, now in his second spell with the Chiefs, had until this weekend played every minute of every Premiership game for the club since their elevation into the top flight.

Newcastle Falcons have made two changes and summer signing Jamie Helleur is out with a slight hamstring strain, while Andrew van der Heijden misses out with a rib injury.

James Fitzpatrick comes in at inside side centre partnering Luke Eves at the heart of the Falcons backline. Tim Swinson, who started from the bench, last week, replaces van der Heijden in the engine room.

Meanwhile Glen Townson and Rikki Sheriffe are amongst the replacements for the long trip to Devon.

“You know what Exeter will bring to the table and they are a very physical side” said head coach Alan Tait.

“I watched their game against Leicester and I imagine Richard Cockerill has been on the phone with the referees, as they get away with a lot around the breakdown area.

“They cause mayhem, do Exeter and fair play to them. They keep getting away with it so we are going to have to be street-wise in there and match them upfront” he added.

The northeasterners faced Exeter an incredible five times in all competitions last campaign, with Tait adding: “We were the unlucky team who had to play them five times last year, so we know exactly what to expect and you certainly have to match them upfront before you can do anything.

“I keep saying this, but they are not a Championship side – they are a Premiership side with some very good players and upfront they have some old heads in there with some very physical boys.

“It will be a big challenge and I know Paul Moriarty is already chomping at the bit, telling the lads that they must front up this week. “Teams are now coming to terms with how difficult Exeter really are, and keep thinking they are a Championship side, but they are very much not.

“Rob Baxter is a good coach and he has bought really well over the summer – they are a formidable outfit. They have only lost one or two players to the World Cup, so they are a fair old unit with good players amongst them.

“We know how difficult it is to go down there, so it is going to be a battle and a dogfight at their place. As for outplaying them, you can only do that once you have matched them upfront”

The Bookies have given Newcastle Falcons an 8

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