So here we are, already into the final regular round of the season’s first competition, with the visit of Bristol Bears for the local derby round of the Premiership Rugby Cup. DIRECTOR’S VIEWPOINT
Importantly, we are still alive in this competition, which is always our aim going into the final round. In achieving that feat, it means today’s game has real meaning beyond being an important final preparation fixture before we start the Gallagher Premiership season here next week against Harlequins. We’ve achieved that position courtesy of an opening round win here against Bath, claiming another bonus point victory away to Worcester Warriors last Friday with a completely different squad. These games have not only allowed us to get the right amount of game time into the squad, but they have also meant that we have been able to get some extra mental and physical refreshment time into the players as we enter the last weeks before the Premiership’s first round. On reviewing last week’s performance at Worcester, it is clear we have some work-ons to do, especially around our focus on the ball as we made an uncharacteristic amount of errors in possession. That said, we did have over 70% possession and territory, which is a very positive stat, and showed how hard we were prepared to work through phases and to stay positive. As with all games, there was a certain wearing down process that we had to drive through before we eventually scored those late points and secured the bonus point win. The most pleasing aspect of this was that it was achieved after we had picked up multiple back- line injuries. That could easily have provided an opportunity for the players to look for the available excuses to just see out the game. Instead, I thought the character we showed when it got tough was the highlight of the game for me – and I know that some of the errors will be eliminated as this group of players have further game time.
Looking ahead to this game and beyond, our messages this week have been pretty clear. We now have to look to increase our accuracy and our intensity, day-by-day in training and minute by minute in today’s game. Everyone is now used to being back in the shirt, so therefore they should be fighting to achieve the best they can, in all they do. Pre-season is well and truly over and the 2019- 2020 season is really here! All the best! ROB BAXTER
DIRECTOR OF RUGBY EXETER RUGBY CLUB
EXETER CHIEFS V BRISTOL BEARS
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