Exeter Chiefs ready to raid the Falcons' nest in fine style
Newcastle could struggle to keep tabs on Baxter's aces
Newcastle v Exeter
BT Sport 1, 7.45pm Friday
Newcastle beat Exeter 28-20 at Kingston Park in January last season but the Chiefs exacted revenge in May's Premiership semi-finals with a 36-5 home triumph and they look worth a wager to give up eight points on this trip to the north-east.
Exeter have a maximum haul of 15 points from three games this campaign and their slick beating of Wasps 42-31 at the Ricoh Arena in round two suggests head coach Rob Baxter has decided there will be no reining back on their attacking tactics for tough road games.
That Coventry win was revenge too as Wasps were the last team to inflict a regular-season defeat on the Chiefs in February.
Exeter should have plenty of fuel in the tank as their Sandy Park successes over Leicester and Sale were achieved without expending much energy in defence and their replacements bench promises more power and fluidity of tactics.
There are three international front-five forwards in Tomas Francis, Alec Hepburn and Dave Dennis and experienced fly-half Gareth Steenson to guide them around the pitch and to pot the goals.
By contrast, the Falcons' 'reward' for making the last four last season has been a start from hell courtesy of the fixture computer.
First up were Saracens at Kingston Park and while the champions never cut loose, they powered through for a 32-21 victory.
Then came a trip to Welford Road and a tussle with a Leicester outfit wounded by the loss at Exeter that prompted the sacking of Matt O'Connor. The Tigers bared their attacking teeth to gain a 49-33 triumph.
Newcastle stopped the rot with their 23-20 win at Worcester on Saturday but the Warriors are bottom with no wins and their two other losing bonus points were gained against Sale and Wasps, who Exeter had little trouble with.
1pt 5-6 Betway
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