Newcastle Falcons 10 Exeter Chiefs 18

ALAN Tait has revealed a clear-the-air meeting in the Kingston Park changing room has left his Newcastle Falcons future still in doubt.

Newcastle Falcons' James Fitzpatrick in action against Exeter Chiefs

ALAN Tait has revealed a clear-the-air meeting in the Kingston Park changing room has left his Newcastle Falcons future still in doubt.

The Scot admirably made no attempt to duck questions over his status as head coach following the 16-10 defeat, one which left his side again struggling for air at the bottom of the Aviva Premiership.

He said: “We had a good meeting with the players and coaches in the changing room, the contents of which will remain private, but everything is out in the open in terms of where we are.

“We will have to see how we regroup and come back for the month of cup games and that was what we discussed.

“I am hoping the lads are up for the fight, but I have to look at myself as well and the way I coach them.”

Tait added: “I have to analyse my own contribution as head coach, which I will do, and I will have a talk with the owner once I have done that. The knives are out, and rightly so. We have not won an important game at home – I am the man in charge and I take responsibility.”

Tait took over the reins from Steve Bates in May 2010, stepping up from his role as assistant coach.

His 36 league games at the helm have yielded just six victories at a win rate of 16.6%, virtually half of the 32% achieved by Bates in his 50 matches.

Previous incumbent John Fletcher recorded more than double Tait’s win-ratio in the exact same number of outings with 15 triumphs from 36, leaving a rueful Tait to contemplate calling it a day.

He added: “I had a dream and a vision when I joined this club and it has not happened for us.

“What we have done off the ield I know is absolutely up to standard, but we have not performed on the pitch.

“I am the head coach and I have to carry the can, which is what I will be doing over the next few days.”

The nuts and bolts of Saturday’s defeat are barely worth dwelling on, such was the standard of play. Exeter scrum-half Haydn Thomas dummied and went through a gaping hole for the visitors’ only try on 11 minutes, with the boot of Argentine fly-half Ignacio Mieres adding a conversion, drop-goal and a pair of penalties.

A wasteful Newcastle line-out was one of many mal-functioning facets in a performance devoid of any shape or penetration, with fly-half Jimmy Gopperth having an uncharacteristic off-day from the kicking tee.

The Golden Boot hit just two of his five attempts after being publicly courted by London Irish coach Toby Booth as a transfer target, but his conversion of Tim Swinson’s late try did at least offer the scant consolation of a losing bonus point. Worcester’s home win over Gloucester left London Wasps as Newcastle’s only realistic target for survival, with a nine-point gap in place and the same number of games still to play.

Tait said: “You never say die in these situations.

“All I can ask those guys to do is play until the final whistle of the season for us. Do not get me wrong, we will never go on the field and give up.

“At the same time you have to look at the overall picture and this is the time of year when players make their minds up about staying here or going elsewhere. We are not looking very pretty at the moment on the scoreboard or the table, but you just have to wait and see what happens.”

NEWCASTLE FALCONS: G Goosen (T Bedford, 61), L Fielden, S Hufanga (T Catterick, 72), J Fitzpatrick, J Manning, J Gopperth (captain), J Pasqualin (C Pilgrim, 61); G Shiells (A Wells, 47), R Vickers (M Mayhew, 57), E Murray, A Fondse (A Hogg, 40), T Swinson, T Tu’ifua, W Welch, R Mayhew (M Wilson, 64).

Scorers – Tries: T Swinson. Conversions: J Gopperth. Penalties: J Gopperth.

EXETER CHIEFS: L Arscott, G Camacho, N Sestaret, J Shoemark, M Jess, I Mieres, H Thomas; B Sturgess, N Clark (S Alcott, 72), H Tui (C Mitchell, 40), T Hayes (captain), A Muldowney, T Johnson, J Scaysbrook, J Phillips (D Ewers, 66).

Scorers - Tries: H Thomas. Conversions: I Mieres. Penalties: I Mieres 2. Drop-goals: I Mieres.

Referee: A Small Attendance: 3,445


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