|Aviva Premiership semi-final|
|Exeter (16) 36|
|Tries: White, Woodburn, Armand Cons: J Simmonds 2, Steenson Pens: J Simmonds 5|
|Newcastle (0) 5|
Defending champions Exeter reached their third successive Premiership final with a dominant win over first-time semi-finalists Newcastle.
The Chiefs enjoyed 92% possession in the first half, with three Joe Simmonds penalties and a Nic White try putting them 16-0 up at the break.
Fly-half Simmonds added two more penalties after the break before Alex Tait pulled a try back for the Falcons.
But Olly Woodburn’s touchdown and a late Don Armand score sealed victory.
Exeter will face Saracens, who beat them in the 2016 final, at Twickenham next Saturday after they had a record-breaking 57-33 win over Wasps.
- Relive Exeter’s win over Newcastle as it happened
- Saracens beat Wasps to reach Twickenham
Chiefs dominate from start
Newcastle knew they would be in for a tough time from the off, as their defence withstood a 26-phase opening act which boosted the confidence of Dean Richards’ side.
But in the opening half Exeter were imperious – Newcastle made 154 tackles to just nine by the home side, who also bossed 93% of the territory.
Simmonds’ penalties – the third for a deliberate knock-on which saw Falcons lock Evan Olmstead sent to the sin-bin – set the foundation for Exeter’s win as Newcastle suffered the blow of losing prop Scott Wilson to what looked like a serious neck injury.
Fourteen-man Newcastle held out until the final minute of their disadvantage, when Lachie Turner burst through to set up an attack that ended in White darting over the line under the posts.
Falcons improve after break
Newcastle got a bit more possession in the second half and, after a couple more penalties from Simmonds, scored a try of their own.
Tait got on the end of a Toby Flood pass to go over following their first sustained bit of pressure near the Exeter line, although Flood’s conversion was remarkably charged down by Turner.
But Exeter quickly regrouped as Woodburn went in at the corner and Stuart Townsend had a try disallowed by the television match official.
The visitors’ day was summed up when Tait failed to properly ground a try in the final minutes after he was found in the open by a wonderful kick from Flood.
Thomas Waldrom, in his final home game for Exeter, ended the match with a lovely break to feed Armand for his last-second try which sets up a final between the two dominant English sides of recent years.
But Exeter know they will be in for a much sterner test when they face Saracens at Twickenham on Saturday, 26 May (15:00 BST).
Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter told BBC Sport:
“Winning is great, but the manner of our win was very pleasing.
“We knew that we would have to work very hard against a team that’s been very resilient in defence and that has a lot of collective belief and energy, and as the game went those points took some scoring.
“We didn’t get frustrated from the scores coming slowly and we actually built our performance.
“Often when you’re in that scenario when the pressure’s on you a little bit and you’re not getting the scores your possession demands it can be very easy to push something. We did that a couple of times, but not too often.”
Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards:
“The two sides that are the most accurate in the way they play are Saracens and Exeter and today showed that.
“The possession they had in the first half is testament to our defence on the day. In attack we were a bit impatient, and this is where they’re incredibly good – they have a huge amount of patience and they’re very accurate about what they’re trying to do.
“A lot of the journalists here today tipped us to be relegated this year, so it’s quite interesting that we’ve done as well as we have done. I’m delighted for the players more than anything.”
Exeter: Turner; Nowell, Slade, Hill, Woodburn; J Simmonds, White; Hepburn, Cowan-Dickie, Francis, Lees, Hill, Ewers, Armand (capt), S Simmonds.
Replacements: Yeandle, Moon, Holmes, Skinner, Waldrom, Townsend, Steenson, Whitten.
Newcastle: Hammersley; Goneva, Harris, Matavesi, Sinoti; Flood, Young; Lockwood, Cooper, S Wilson, Green, Olmstead, M Wilson (capt), Graham, Hogg.
Replacements: S Socino, Vickers, D Wilson, Witty, Latu, Takulua, JP Socino, Tait.
Sin-bin: Olmstead (29).
Referee: Matthew Carley.
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