|Exeter Chiefs (31) 74|
|Tries: S Skinner, S Simmonds, Cuthbert, Slade 2, Vermeulen 2, J Simmonds, Ewers, Hogg, H Skinner, O’Flaherty Cons: J Simmonds 7|
|Newcastle Falcons (3) 3|
Premiership champions Exeter boosted their chances of a home play-off semi-final in style with a record-breaking 12-try win against Newcastle.
Chiefs recorded their biggest win in the competition as 10 different players scored tries at Sandy Park.
Their 74 points also equalled the club’s best tally in the top flight and is the most convincing home win by any Premiership side this season.
Braces from Henry Slade and Jacques Vermeulen were among the dozen tries.
Victory for Exeter also saw them reclaim second place from Sale Sharks and move within three points of leaders Bristol Bears with two games to play.
They are five points ahead of Sale, who they face at home in the last round of the regular season.
Newcastle’s second-largest margin of defeat in the Premiership left them 11th and dented their chances of qualifying for the European Champions Cup with a top-eight finish.
An early Toby Flood penalty was their only score on a testing afternoon for a side who made 14 changes from their last game.
Chiefs scored five of their 12 tries before half-time, with rolling mauls producing opening-quarter scores for Sam Skinner and Sam Simmonds, who in turn took his record-breaking tally for the Premiership season to 20.
Alex Cuthbert and Slade helped secure the bonus point just after half an hour, before Vermeulen’s first shortly after a yellow card for John Hardie gave them a 31-3 lead at the break.
But Exeter kept their foot on the accelerator after the interval with 43 more points in front of a jubilant returning crowd of about 4,000.
Vermeulen and Slade bagged their respective second tries of the afternoon and then Joe Simmonds, Dawe Ewers, Stuart Hogg, Harvey Skinner and Tom O’Flaherty rounded off the rout.
Fly-half Simmonds finished the afternoon with a personal tally of 19 points, while O’Flaherty got his reward with the last try having supplied earlier scores for Slade and Hogg.
Exeter Chiefs head coach Ali Hepher:
“It’s always tough to play against changed-up sides, but we kept our heads on the task in hand and did the simple basics well.
“We didn’t throw any wild passes and kept our structure throughout.
“It has benefited us that we were knocked out of Europe as we have been able to fit some spare time into our plans.
“We’re comfortable going away to any team in the Premiership but it would be nice to get a home semi-final for our fans but we still have two tough games to play.”
Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards told BBC Radio Newcastle:
“You have to look at it slightly differently, we knew it was going to be difficult coming down here. We’ve got a six-day turnaround ahead of Worcester at home next and you have to make an objective decision.
“We decided to rest a lot of players carrying long-term niggles and hand debuts to four players. I thought those debutants handled themselves magnificently and they’ll benefit from that in due course.
“The execution and clinical play is what’s crucial and when you see a side like Exeter do it they way they do, you can aspire to that.
“They’ve always been my tip for the Premiership and there’s no reason to change that now.”
Exeter Chiefs: Cordero; Cuthbert, Slade, Devoto, O’Flaherty; J Simmonds (capt), Maunder; Hepburn, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Kirsten, S Skinner, Ewers, Vermeulen, S Simmonds.
Replacements: Yeandle, Moon, Francis, Hill, Lonsdale, Townsend, H Skinner, Hogg.
Newcastle Falcons: Hodgson; Tait, Wacokecoke, Lucock, Obonna; Flood (capt), Stuart; Cooper, Smith, Ah You, Salmon, Farrar, Graham, Hardie, Fearns.
Replacements: Maddison, Lockwood, Tampin, Montgomery, Marshall, Schreuder, Haydon-Wood, Kerr.
Sin-bin: Hardie (27 mins).
Referee: Andrew Jackson.