Chiefs buoyed by win over Quins
February 12, 2011
Exeter's Matt Jess shows his emotions at full-time © Getty Images
Exeter Chiefs assistant coach Ali Hepher felt that Saturday's 20-6 over in-form Harlequins was just reward for the Aviva Premiership newcomers' incredible work rate.
Quins arrived at Sandy Park on a nine-game winning streak. However, they came off a clear second best against the Chiefs, who notched the only try of the game through flanker Tom Johnson and benefitted from a 15-point haul from fly-half Gareth Steenson.
"You cannot underestimate what we are putting in," Hepher said. "The guys across the board are getting off the floor quickly and the ethos is fantastic.
"We were a little disappointed that we didn't perform a little better in the first half when there were opportunities. But we learn really quick and the guys were really smart in the second half. We started to pick the right options.
"Harlequins are a really good side, we managed to hang in there at times, they are a quality side. It was more about our guys being able to stop them as much as anything. There are some quality players out there and they performed well today. We knew that we needed to focus on getting a Premiership win having lost a couple of games."
It was a desperately disappointing afternoon for Quins, who surprisingly managed nothing more than a penalty in either half from No.10 Nick Evans. Their misery was compounded by the loss of scrum-half Karl Dickson, who was stretchered from the field with a suspected dislocated shoulder.
"This is a very tough place to come," said Quins director of rugby Conor O'Shea. "We started the game the way we wanted, we held on to the ball, it was a very strong wind and it was 12-3 at half-time.
"We made a number of line breaks, we controlled possession pretty well for period when we had it but we kept trying to forced things and the Chiefs were getting lots of easy yards. The start of the second half was a disaster in terms of what we wanted to go out and do. You have the kick off and you let them score virtually from their own line.
"You have to give massive credit to the Chiefs today - they out-worked us - we had the line breaks but we didn't protect the ball. It is incredible to come away without scoring a try given the number of clean breaks that were made. The showed their attitude in abundance in the way that they scrambled - when they were broken they got back and made their tackles, we didn't do that - so all credit to Chiefs.
"We'll learn the lesson, hard work has got us to where we are and you have to work hard in every single game you play."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies