Newcastle 10 - 16 ExeterKO: Sat Jan 07 15:00:00 GMT 2012 Ground: Kingston Park
Newcastle v Exeter: Teams
At Kingston Park, Saturday January 7, kick-off 3pm
Newcastle boss Alan Tait has made three changes of personnel to his line-up for Saturday's crunch Aviva Premiership clash with Exeter Chiefs at Kingston Park
Luke Fielden, Tim Swinson and Taiasina Tu'ifua come in for the league's bottom team, with Luke Eves, the injured James Hudson and Ally Hogg missing out.
Fielden's inclusion means Suka Hufanga slots into the centres alongside James Fitzpatrick, while Richard Mayhew moves to No.8 to accommodate Tu'ifua on the flank.
"Exeter are a very difficult team to break down and they will never give in," said Tait.
"They are a stuffy side and last year they got a stranglehold of us when they came up here. It was always going to be decided by the slightest of margins and that proved to be the case.
"Hopefully we can turn up on Saturday and match them physically but I also want us to play the style of rugby that I know that we are capable of.
"I want us to be looking for the line-breaks and putting players into spaces. Our players know that it is going to be a battle but we still want to create chances and move them around."
Exeter Chiefs welcome back Hoani Tui and Tom Johnson for the long trip to the north-east.
Tui is preferred to John Andress in the front row, while Johnson starts in the back row ahead of James Phillips. Both Andress and Phillips drop to the bench.
"It is always a massive ask up there, but equally it is one we achieved last year and one we are capable of winning," said Exeter assistant coach Ali Hepher.
"Without a shadow of a doubt we're expecting them to come out strong. I've played up there many a time in the past and it's a tough place to go.
"They come at you straight away and it will be no different this week. They may see it as a must-win game for them, but it's a must-win for us in a certain sense because we have just got to keep winning in Premiership."
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Greg Goosen, 14 Luke Fielden, 13 Suka Hufanga, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Jeremy Manning, 10 Jimmy Gopperth (c), 9 Jordi Pasqualin, 8 Richard Mayhew 7 Will Welch, 6 Taiasina Tu'ifua, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Rob Vickers, 1 Grant Shiells.
Replacements: 16 Michael Mayhew, 17 Ashley Wells, 18 James Hall, 19 Mark Wilson, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Chris Pilgrim, 22 Tom Catterick, 23 Corne Uys
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Nic Sestaret, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Tom Hayes (c), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Neil Clark, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Simon Alcott, 17 John Andress, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Chris Bentley, 20 James Phillips, 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Josh Tatupu.
Chiefs add to Falcons woes
Chiefs come away with the win after long trip to the North East
Exeter Chiefs got back to winning ways in the Aviva Premiership as they fought off the desperate challenge of bottom side Newcastle with a 16-10 win at Kingston Park.
The Devon side made the long trip north for the first Premiership game of the year after successive league defeats, but they ended that run with a hard-fought victory that moved them up into fifth place in the table.
The victory should be enough for the Chiefs to concentrate on pushing on for a top-six spot, but Newcastle probably should start planning for life in the Championship.
They remain well adrift at the foot of the table but did squeeze a losing bonus point out of the game with Tim Swinson's converted try two minutes from time.
The Chiefs led 10-0 at half-time after an opportunist try from scrum-half Haydn Thomas, with fly-half Ignacio Mieres kicking the conversion and adding penalties either side of half-time plus a drop-goal four minutes from the end.
With the Chiefs cruising at 16-3, Swinson's late strike raised a few doubts. Gopperth converted the close-range try to add to his second-half penalty to clinch a bonus point for the Falcons at 16-10, but it came too late.
The Falcons had themselves to blame as they went behind, with no-one at home when Thomas scampered through a yawning gap on the 22 and the scrum-half was never going to be caught. Mieres' conversion made it 7-0 after 10 minutes.
The hosts had a couple of chances, the best midway through the half when Jeremy Manning just failed to get on the end of a Gopperth kick through, but they were on the back foot for the rest of the first half as their line-out misfired again and they failed to look after the ball when they had it.
Gopperth missed a long-range penalty and while they had the lion's share of possession, Exeter failed to make it count against some top-class Newcastle tackling.
The Falcons coughed up the ball once again in their own half and conceded a penalty which Mieres slotted right on half-time for the Chiefs to lead 10-0 at the break.
Gopperth kicked a penalty within a minute of the restart but Mieres was on target as well two minutes later to restore Exeter's advantage.
And when Gopperth missed two difficult penalties in three minutes and the Falcons made a mess of three attacking line-outs in the Chiefs 22, it was hard to see Newcastle getting anything out of the game at all.
There was a brief flurry sparked by Suka Hufanga's weaving run, but once again Newcastle's inability to protect the ball ended any hopes of a score.
With six minutes left Mieres slotted his drop-goal after some patient phases from the Exeter forwards.
Newcastle finally found some edge to their play and Swinson barrelled through followed by Gopperth's quickly taken conversion but it was not nearly enough.