|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 Chiefs booked a home play-off semi-final in style with a record-breaking 12-try win against Newcastle Falcons.
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 registered 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.
Newcastle’s second-largest margin of defeat in the Premiership left them 11th and dented their chance 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.
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: 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.