Chiefs skipper Mumm delighted by start of European campaign
Exeter Chiefs skipper Dean Mumm is excited at the prospect of back-to-back games against defending Heineken Cup champions Toulon in December.
The Devon side sit on top of their European pool, ahead of the star-studded Frenchmen by virtue of having scored one more try, after securing a losing bonus point in their 20-16 defeat at Glasgow Warriors on Sunday.
Jonny Wilkinson’s Toulon were left stunned by their 19-15 loss the previous day to Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park – less than a week after the Welshmen had been put to the sword by the Chiefs at Sandy Park.
Each team in Pool Two has now won one match, with only one point covering all four sides, but the Chiefs lead the way heading into a home fixture against Toulon on December 7, followed by a trip to the Stade Mayol, situated on the Mediterranean coast, seven days later.
“Before the tournament started, we would have taken being top of the group after the first two pool matches – absolutely!” said Mumm, who is the Chiefs’ top try scorer so far this season with four touchdowns.
“It is pleasing where we are in the pool, but the nature of our season means we now go back to the Premiership and we have got to focus on that and try and get two wins.
“If we can get momentum from that, and the LV= Cup, going back into the Heineken Cup, then who knows what we can achieve?
“We will relish Toulon coming to Sandy Park and relish the opportunity to have a great team at our home.
“They will be hurting after their defeat to Cardiff and there will be a reaction, so we have got to get stuck into them and see what we can do.”
Toulon can ill afford to lose another game in the group if they are to stand a chance of defending the trophy they won in Dublin last May, and they are almost certain to be at full strength for what they will view as a tough assignment in the Westcountry, but Mumm is happy about that.
“When you play the best side in Europe, you want to play them at their best, so we are very excited about it,” he said.
“We are very happy to be top of the table, but the reality of it is the pool is very open.
“There is one point covering four teams, and we are pleased to be where we are, but the job is certainly not done.”
Grinding out a point in miserable conditions in Glasgow was in stark contrast to their entertaining five-pointer against the Blues the previous Sunday, but that point could be vital come the end of the pool matches.
“It was a battle,” admitted 29-year-old former Australia international Mumm. “It wasn’t a free-flowing game, but that was probably to be a little bit expected. Glasgow is not known for its sun!
“It was tight and it was hard to get points, so on that front, to get a losing bonus point away from home is very important.
“The real challenge in the Heineken Cup is to get away wins, and if you can’t do that then the next best thing is to get a losing bonus point and come out of it with something.
“We are pleased we did that, but ultimately we are not pleased with some aspects of our game.
“There were a couple of scrum discipline issues that allowed Glasgow to get some territory at key times, and we can work on that. The line-outs on our own ball and our set piece generally were reasonably good.
“Glasgow are a very good side, they are very well drilled and very disciplined, their defence is excellent, and the pressure they put on the breakdown was quite evident as well.
“There is a reason why they are doing well in the RaboDirect Pro12 League, and a reason why they are a very competitive side.”
Exeter switch focus now to a home Premiership game on Saturday against a Worcester Warriors side sitting bottom of the table and still seeking their first win in any competition this season, but that also makes them dangerous opponents.
“Their league position is kind of irrelevant, particularly coming off two European weekends,” explained Mumm.
“There is an opportunity for us to grab a win, but we have just got to focus on our detail, and what we can learn from the Glasgow defeat, and go forward and attack the game.
“It is at home, and we always love playing at home, and that is a big factor.”