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Exeter assistant coach Ali Hepher hails defence after bonus-point win

Exeter assistant coach Ali Hepher highlighted his side's second half performance as their 36-14 bonus point win over Newcastle at Sandy Park moved them up to second place in the Aviva Premiership table.

Exeter had trailed 14-7 after half an hour but a strong second-half performance from their pack, playing with the advantage of a keen wind, saw them run out convincing winners.

James Short scored two tries for the Chiefs with Harry Williams and Sam Skinner crossing for one each. There was also a penalty try award with Joe Simmonds converting four and adding a penalty.

Hepher said: "Newcastle are a good side and in good form and came here with a good deal of confidence but we started poorly, especially in defence.

"We were hesitant in that first half particularly when we had ball in hand as we needed to run hard instead of trying the clever ball.

"There was plenty to address at half-time but our defence was outstanding in that second half and to earn a bonus point was invaluable."

Next up for Exeter is a game at Welford Road against Leicester next Friday.

Hepher added: "Moving one point into second and above Saracens at this stage is not important as the top four places are really tight but we are hoping to remain there and to secure a top two finish would be really nice.

"Leicester have improved with a couple of good wins and it's all up for grabs but we are in good shape.

"However we need to start better and it's something we'll have to address, we could do with digging in when it's 0-0.

Exeter had been rocked by two early tries from Vereniki Goneva and Rob Vickers, with Sonatane Takulua converting both as the visitors were the better side for the first thirty minutes before they fell away badly.

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards said: "I'm disappointed as we started really well but we weren't accurate enough and this allowed them back into the game.

"We should have been further in front but we didn't take our chances and too many kicks went straight into touch.

"They are very good side, who are incredibly patient, as they wait for a chink in your defence before striking".


From Belfast Telegraph