Exeter 22-17 Newcastle, Aviva Premiership, September 18
Tait: Falcons must learn lessons
September 18, 2010
Phil Dollman is taken down by two Newcastle defenders, Exeter v Newcastle, Aviva Premiership, Sandy Park Stadium, Exeter, England, September 18, 2010
Phil Dollman is taken down by two Newcastle defenders during the Falcons' defeat © Getty Images

Newcastle head coach Alan Tait cursed his side for crossing the referee and failing to maintain their discipline as they slumped to a 22-17 defeat to Exeter at Sandy Park on Saturday.

Tait's team outscored Exeter by two tries to one with Charlie Amesbury and Rob Vickerman both touching down for the visitors after a 370-mile journey to Devon from the north east. But the Falcons' inability to avoid the wrath referee Greg Garner cost them as Exeter fly-half Gareth Steenson slotted five penalties to claim the win.

And Tait suggested that his side's failure to adapt to the new directives from referees this season was something they must address as a matter of urgency.

Tait said: "It was our own mistakes in key positions that cost us. We got hammered on the penalty count, 8-1 in the second half, and whilst I'm at a loss as to some of those decisions, I'm not going to use the officials as an excuse.

"Obviously there are bits that we will go through with the refereeing authorities, but that's perfectly normal and it's down to us really to adapt because these penalties are killing us. But fair play to Exeter, they ran with more vigour today and you probably can't argue with them getting the win. It's my first trip here and it seems like a good set-up, they're bringing something new to the Premiership and you have to take your hat off to them."

The result will be a bitter pill to swallow for the Falcons boss after they opened their account for the season with a rousing home win over Wasps last weekend.

Tait said: "It wasn't up to the standards we expect from ourselves. The set piece didn't function as well as it has been, that was the catalyst for Exeter's try which again was just sloppy play. In the end it's cost us the game, and we have a week to turn things round with a big game against London Irish next weekend."

Newcastle's day was made worse with the news that an injury to James Hudson could leave them without their skipper for a significant period. The Falcons lock had to leave the field towards the end of the first half with what Tait reported as a hamstring injury.

"We'll obviously have a proper look at that early in the week, but it looks like he will be out for a bit and that's something we will have to cope with," Tait said. "I'll have to sit down and discuss who comes in to captain the side presuming James isn't fit, but that's something we will look at as we prepare for London Irish."

Exeter assistant coach Ali Hepher praised his side's determination and also signalled the importance of the result to his side's continued development.

"It was important that we battled through it," he said. "It wasn't the slickest of performances but you can see the character of the team coming through at the end. We have been emphasising to the guys all week the mental side of the game. We knew, game wise, we had enough to win the game but it would come down to the attitude of the team.

"I think that we just pulled through it but the guys have just got to get used to that pressure week in, week out. They are great guys, they work so hard, probably the hardest working group of players that I have seen. These guys are going in the right direction and we will learn masses from this game and take it through to next week."

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