Rugby Union

Gareth Steenson earns the praise of Exeter coach Rob Hunter as he breaks record

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Football News

Exeter forwards coach Rob Hunter praised his "killer" fly-half Gareth Steenson as he broke the club's all-time league points scoring record in the 32-17 bonus point victory over Newcastle.

Steenson booted two penalties and three conversions to add to tries from number eight Thomas Waldrom, full-back Phil Dollman, centre Sam Hill and replacement hooker Elvis Taione.

Battling Newcastle lost the match in the last 10 minutes, having fought hard and crossed for tries via scrum-half Sonatane Takulua and number eight Nili Latu while stand-off Mike Delany added a penalty and two conversion.

And there was more good news for both Exeter and England with the return to action of centre Henry Slade, who has been out since early December with a leg injury, causing him to miss the Six Nations Championship.

Tony Yapp previously held the league points scoring record at the Chiefs with 1,526 but the twelve kicked by Steenson took 31-year-old Ulster-born fly-half to 1,532 points.

Hunter said: "It is fantastic. It is a huge accolade for Gareth. He is a killer in front of the posts, there is no doubt about it.

"He has been a key part of Exeter's success on and off the field for many years now. He adds so much more than just those points."

Steenson's record-breaking points came when he converted Dollman's second-half try, and he said: "I thank Phil for putting it under the posts. I couldn't really miss that one. I'm delighted to get the record and now I can put it to the back of my mind."

Hunter, meanwhile, was happy to see Slade back in action after three months out. Hunter said: "He is a quality player. They have done an amazing job to get him back on the pitch in such good order. It was a very tough nasty injury for him to come back from but he has worked hard with the rehab team."

The bonus point keeps Exeter head-to-head with Saracens at the top of the Premiership, and, Hunter added: "It was tough. We played quite a bit and it was tight at half-time but we are delighted with the bonus point.

"They played some good rugby. We held our composure because it got tight. We had a lot of time camped on their line and when you have that pressure, sooner or later it tells."

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards said his side was good but added: "Defensively, the boys put everything into it. The disappointing thing was we conceded a couple of soft tries. The whole of the pack were outstanding and some of the hits they put in were massive.

"But we lost our shape defensively a couple of times. I thought we deserved a little bit of something out of it.

"They had a few boys missing as we did as well. If we put that accuracy in attack as we did in defence, it could have been a different result altogether."

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