Challenge Cup: Exeter Chiefs 48-13 Newcastle Falcons

By Steve MarshallBBC Sport
Thomas Waldrom scores
Thomas Waldrom is the Premiership's leading try scorer this season with 13
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Exeter (17) 48
Tries: Ewers, penalty, Waldrom, McGuigan, Hill, Mumm Cons: Slade 4, Steenson 2 Pen: Slade 2
Newcastle (6) 13
Try: Harris Con: Catterick Pens: Catterick 2

Exeter Chiefs reached their first European semi-final with an emphatic victory over Newcastle Falcons in the last eight of the Challenge Cup.

Chiefs, who travel to Gloucester in the last four, led 17-6 at half-time through Dave Ewers and a penalty try.

Thomas Waldrom and Byron McGuigan put the result beyond doubt before Chris Harris pulled a try back with a brilliant solo run from halfway.

Sam Hill and Dean Mumm added the gloss for Exeter with two late tries.

With their Premiership place secured for next season, defeat effectively ends Newcastle's season, while Exeter, currently fifth in the league, have plenty to play for.

Exeter suffered the blow of losing lock and line-out leader Damian Welch in the warm-up, but that setback hardly showed as they piled the pressure on Newcastle from the start with an effective kick and chase game.

Fortress Sandy Park
Exeter have now won their last nine home games in the Challenge Cup, not losing since their first game of European rugby when they were defeated by Montpellier.

The home forwards held their own against the physical Falcons pack too, with a pick and drive from a five-metre scrum resulting in flanker Ewers going over.

Exeter extended their lead when Newcastle full-back Alex Tait conceded a penalty try for pulling back Matt Jess in goal after having his kick charged down and was sent to the sin-bin for his troubles.

Two penalties from Falcons fly-half Tom Catterick either side of one from Chiefs counterpart Henry Slade meant Exeter went into half-time with an 11-point lead.

But the Chiefs extended their advantage straight from the restart when Waldrom capitalised on a superb break and offload by Ewers to power his way over.

Slade added another penalty and then slotted his fourth conversion after full-back McGuigan latched on to Will Chudley's perfectly-weighted chip kick.

Harris outpaced the Chiefs defence for a brilliant consolation score but Kai Horstmann and Tom James both displayed great hands to offload to Hill and Mumm respectively as Exeter secured their semi-final place in style.

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter:

"Things are there for us to play for now which makes things very exciting.

"The tries were great and were fantastic for everyone to watch but for me what was most pleasing was the defensive performance and the way that we managed to control the game.

"If you want to be a good side you have to want to be in semi-final and finals and have big Premiership games coming up. Some people may say that schedule makes it tough for us, but I'm just excited to keep aiming for things."

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards:

"It was one of those days which we will have to put behind us because it was a bad day at the office.

"It was never going to be easy down here at Sandy Park but the difficulty for us was that there were so many basic errors - people not keeping to script. It was 17-6 at half-time and Exeter had been in our half twice and scored two tries.

"We only have ourselves to blame for the result."

Exeter Chiefs: B McGuigan; James, Whitten, Hill, Jess; Slade, Chudley; Moon, Yeandle, Francis, Lees, Mumm (capt), Ewers, White, Waldrom.

Replacements: Rimmer for Moon (51), Lewis for Chudley (59), Low for Francis (59), Steenson for Slade (59), Horstmann for Lees (60), Skinner for White (63), Taione for Yeandle (66), Vainikolo for Hill (74).

Newcastle Falcons: Tait; Harris, Powell, Socino, Sinoti; Catterick, Tipuna; Vickers, Lawson, Brookes, Barrow, Thompson, Mayhew, Welch (capt), Wilson.

Replacements: Fry for Vickers (51), Orlandi for Brookes (51), Takulua for Tipuna (51), Hammersley for Tait (51), Clegg for Powell (59), G McGuigan for Lawson (60), Temm for Welch (60), Green for Barrow (74).

Sin-bin: Tait (20)

Att: 10,022.

Ref: Marius Mitrea (Italy)