Big-screen debut is a delight for Tom James
All those who witnessed his Exeter Chiefs home debut will no doubt have enjoyed watching wing Tom James light up Sandy Park with a dazzling solo try in the 30-26 win against Wasps – and that includes the man himself.
James, a summer arrival at Chiefs from Pro12 outfit Cardiff Blues, had already crossed in the first half, following a trademark dummy and sidestep off his left foot, to put the home side 10-6 ahead, after Gareth Steenson had added the extras.
But the real show-stopper came as Chiefs were looking to put the game to bed after a James Scaysbrook try moved them 23-12 to the good midway through the second half. After a quick tap penalty from Haydn Thomas on their own ten-metre line, Chiefs moved the ball along the backs to James, who again had two men outside him but only one thing in mind.
A dummy and another sidestep later and the Welshman was gone before Wasps knew what had hit them.
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Fortunately for the Wales international, he was running straight at one of the huge live television screens at Sandy Park, so was able to check for any pursuers without even having to turn his head.
"I was looking at the big screen to see if [Wasps' England wing] Christian Wade was behind me," said 26-year-old James, who spent seven years at Blues. "Because I broke the line and the full-back was out wide I could see on the screen that there was no one coming, so that helped.
"It was a bit further out than the first one but again the forwards had run round the corner and made a bit of space. I stepped and I could see the try line so it was a case of head back, and go for it.
"For the first one, I saw one of the defenders over-chasing, so I stepped and I was lucky enough to score. You have a go for it and make sure you score, or you have to give the ball. Luckily I made sure I scored.
"It was great to score on my home debut, in front of the fans, and we needed a big performance after last week [the 38-11 defeat at Northampton Saints]. I thought the forwards fronted up and I was fortunate enough to be on the end to score two tries."
James' second score proved crucial as it transpired, with Wasps coming back at Chiefs to close within four points at the whistle, and prevent the home side adding a bonus point for a fourth try.
James admitted there was a little disappointment that Chiefs had not turned three points into four, but saw no reason to dwell on the fact.
"Maybe if we'd scored some more points [after his second try] we'd have been out of sight, but sadly we made a few errors and they got into our 22 and scored," he said.
"Then the pressure was back on us. At least the forwards ground it out for us at the end.
"I think we were working so hard, sometimes you can work too hard almost, and leave a bit of space. But it's still early in the season, we're working on new things so hopefully we'll go strong from here.
"We had to improve in defence, because some of the tries we conceded against Northampton were from our own mistakes. This week I think the forwards really fronted up and the backs were able to run straight into space."