Rob Baxter impressed as ruthless Exeter take Newcastle apart
Exeter revealed a new harder edge in their 41-3 hammering of Newcastle, according to head coach Rob Baxter.
Five first-half tries and a try bonus point in just over half an hour, plus another touchdown with 15 minutes to go left the Falcons in tatters.
No wonder the decision by Gareth Steenson to kick a penalty in the very last minute was greeted by a chorus of boos from the Kingston Park crowd, but Baxter was not about to apologise.
"Not making the top four last last season on points difference has had an effect on us," he said.
"It's given us a nice, hard edge and I like that, so no apologies."
There were two tries for number eight Don Armand, one for Julian Salvi on his first start for Exeter and one each for Will Chudley against his former club, Matt Jess and Moray Low while Steenson kicked four conversions and that late penalty. Mike Delany's penalty was the Falcons' only score of the game.
"It was slightly a game of two halves," added Baxter.
"We were very clinical in the first half, scored some good tries, put pressure on their kickers and in the scrum. We spoke at half-time about not giving away any penalties and in the second half, we gave away only one and I have to take my hat off to the lads for that.
"In the second half we took territory and defended really well. We could have conceded a couple of tries but we didn't and that's important.
"We were very fortunate with the conditions today, they allowed us to play good attacking rugby.
"To get back-to-back wins and five-point bonuses is great for us, but now we have to get our preparation right for the match against Leicester.
"We do have options with our squad and we will have more but it is up to us to manage those options and also to look after and keep the guys fit."
Newcastle now face something of a crunch match at Worcester next week and director of rugby Dean Richards said: "We will sit down and dissect things later. We knew what Exeter would do and we couldn't stop them doing it.
"We did have three outstanding chances in the second half, but in the nature of the day, nothing really went our way, but that's down to us. We have to look at our defence which was appalling.
"There's bound to be some finger-pointing but we have no one to blame but ourselves. We didn't score a try today which is disappointing and there were a few positives but it's the small things that make a difference and we're doing the small things really badly."