Chiefs ready to get ugly in search of win against Gloucester
Damian Welch has vowed that Exeter Chiefs’ players will make amends for their display against Leicester when they ‘go into a bear pit’ against Gloucester.
The lock revealed the Sandy Park players think they let people down with the way they played in the opening 40 minutes against the Tigers last weekend. They were 15-0 down at home at half-time and went on to lose 21-9 against the defending Aviva Premiership champions.
Head coach Rob Baxter felt his charges opted for a safety first approach as they were scared of making mistakes against Leicester.
And Welch says a meeting on Tuesday cleared the air about how they want to attack games from now on.
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The 31-year-old said: “That first 40 minutes [against Leicester] wasn’t the Chiefs, that’s not the way we play, not how we train to play and not how the coaches expect us to play.
“We feel we let ourselves down, let the fans down and a few people down. The best way to turn that around and prove to everyone that we are a good team is to go out and do the opposite against Gloucester.
“With the Premiership, you’ve always got a big team and another big test around the corner. As big teams and big tests go, with a lot of history, it doesn’t get much bigger than Gloucester.
“It’s the right kind of game for the team at the moment bearing in mind how we performed against Leicester.
“We’re going into a bear pit and you either put up or shut up. The way we were discussing things in the team meeting on Tuesday, I think everyone’s ready to put up.”
Gloucester are well known for having an exciting crop of young English backs, including the likes of Freddie Burns, Billy Twelvetrees and Charlie Sharples.
However, they have traditionally been very strong up front, and Welch thinks Exeter can take them on in the packs and fight ‘fire with fire’.
“They’ve got a nice physical pack, a big set of boys, and we obviously know all about their backs from the last game of last season when they were on fire,” said Welch, recalling Exeter’s 40-39 win in May.
“We’ve got to remember our own pack is pretty physical too, we’ve got some extremely physical ball carriers like Dave Ewers and some big ruck hitters.
“We’re going to meet fire with fire in that department. We’re aware of the threat they pose but we’ve got to make sure we’re the pack that’s being discussed after the game.”
Ewers has really started to make his mark in the past six months, making the most of his natural physicality and growing in stature.
He has taken over at No.8 this season following Rich Baxter’s retirement and Welch has tipped the 22-year-old to have a bright future.
“I think he’s one of the lads with a big future ahead of him,” he said. “It’s not very often that a guy with his physical make-up comes along in terms of the raw power, and the strength and speed that he has is phenomenal.
“I can only see him going one way and that’s up. With ball in hand he’s a nightmare for teams to play against. He’s one of those guys you want on your team week in, week out.”