No time for recriminations in Exeter Chiefs camp after Leicester loss as Harlequins lie in wait
Exeter Chiefs skipper Tommy Hayes believes there is no time for the players to feel sorry for themselves after last weekend's 30-8 defeat to Leicester Tigers, with the visit of Aviva Premiership champions Harlequins to Sandy Park coming up on Saturday.
The Chiefs were heavily penalised at Welford Road by referee Tim Wigglesworth, and one or two big decisions did not go their way.
However, they must now prepare themselves to face game three in a daunting run of five league and Heineken Cup fixtures against some of the biggest teams in Europe.
"The reality of the Premiership is there aren't any easy games, and the heavy matches keep rolling on fairly quickly," said Hayes, who is yet to miss a game for the Chiefs in the top flight. "Just like you can't let a negative incident in a game get to you, you can't really let one bad result get to you because there is another tough game right around the corner, and you have to go and do it all over again.
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"We have to pick ourselves up and be as positive as possible, and get straight back into it this week."
Exeter went down 11-9 to Harlequins at Sandy Park last December, with Rory Clegg slotting a match-winning penalty three minutes from full-time, but Hayes said that performance would count for little on Saturday.
"It was a close-run game against them last season, but it is a new season now and new teams, in effect, with some changes in personnel," Hayes added. "We will look forward to the game and try and put the Leicester match behind us, and put in a positive week's work and stand up and see where we can go."
There is plenty for the Exeter coaches and players to work on this week after a match against the Tigers where the Chiefs had major problems in the scrum, and where they failed to take their chances when they came along. "You don't win games of rugby with the troubles we had in the set piece," Hayes admitted.
"That was probably one of the biggest things coming out of the game – the penalties we coughed up in that area, and some of them were just down to poor execution on our part. You just leave yourself an awful lot of work to do to try and stay in a game of rugby when that happens.
"We maybe let things that went against us get to us a bit too much early on, but, when you come up against the cream of the crop, you have to take the good with the bad.
"You can't expect absolutely everything to go your way when you are playing at the top level because it really comes down to fine margins.
"Some things aren't going to go your way, you have to live with it, and when chances come your way you make the most of them, but I don't think we did that enough on Saturday. We let the little negatives get to us.
"A lot of what positive pressure we had ended a bit negatively with things like knock-ons and stuff like that in their 22, and we didn't punish them enough when we had the opportunities. Those are the lessons we have to learn."
Despite struggling in several areas of the game, Exeter defended pretty well to deny Leicester a fourth, bonus-point, try on their own patch.
"We stood up and defended as well as we could," the Irishman said. "We certainly stayed working hard, we never dropped in our work rate, but it has to be a bit more accurate the higher the level you play at. Any team can work as hard as possible, we worked very hard, but it just has to be more effective work."
Exeter Braves went down to a 33-25 defeat to Harlequins in last night's Aviva Premiership A League fixture at The Stoop, Twickenham. Dean Mumm, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Aron Struminski (with tries) and Henry Slade (with two penalties and two conversions) were the scorers for the Chiefs' second XV.