Gareth Steenson pleased as Exeter Chiefs take chances
Exeter Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson believes the back-to-back wins over London Welsh and Harlequins have been all about taking their chances.
The new year had been a very frustrating one up to that point for Exeter, with some good victory opportunities slipping through their fingers.
It saw them fail to win in five Aviva Premiership games, and capture only one victory in nine matches in all competitions, but the results did not reflect many of their performances.
However, it all came good with the 47-16 thrashing of London Welsh at Sandy Park, and that was followed by last Saturday's wonderful 27-16 victory at Premiership leaders Harlequins – Exeter's first win at The Stoop.
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"If you look at the block of the fixtures we have had, there was only one game we were quite disappointed in, and that was away to Saracens, when we didn't get the game-plan right that day," explained the 28-year-old Irishman.
"At Sale, we created the chances but didn't score the tries, which ultimately cost us the game that night, but in the last couple of weeks we have created the same chances that we were doing before and have just finished them off.
"We knew, if we stuck to the game-plan we had at Harlequins, we would come through at the end, and it is great when it finally comes together."
He added: "We pride ourselves on our fitness levels and working for the full 80 minutes, and we knew the pressure would be on Quins if we could stick close to them and keep working hard on what we were doing.
"We knew if we stayed in touch the opportunities would come, and they did in that final quarter, which was fantastic for us."
That win saw the Chiefs complete a league double over the defending Premiership champions, having beaten them 42-28 at Sandy Park in October, but they still remain in eighth place in the table, which is a source of frustration in the Exeter camp as they ponder what could have been with more consistency.
"It is great for us to do the double over Harlequins, but we have got to produce those sorts of performances in other games as well," said the former Cornish Pirates fly-half. "We have probably missed out on a few opportunities, otherwise we could be right in the mix-up near the top of the table.
"There have been a few disappointing results, but we have shown that, whenever we do turn up and play at our best, we are a tough team to live with, home or away."
Saturday was a particularly special day for Steenson, who turned in a man-of-the-match performance, adding some great line breaks to his usual top-notch kicking display.
"It was fantastic," he said. "The first game we played against Harlequins was my first start of the season, and I was delighted we got five points that day, and to finish the way we did on Saturday and not let Harlequins get a bonus point was very special."
The win in London has put the Chiefs right back in the hunt for a top-six finish in the table and a possible place in next season's Heineken Cup. They are only five points adrift, with five league matches remaining.
The players have been given this week off by head coach Rob Baxter, before a huge game against Leicester Tigers at Sandy Park on March 23.
"The Leicester game is something to really look forward to," said Steenson. "We will not rest on our laurels after last Saturday's result. It was a fantastic win and, when we come back in next week, we will start building for another massive challenge."
The Rugby Football Union last night deferred a decision after hearing charges that London Welsh fielded an ineligible player, Tyson Keats, in a number of Aviva Premiership matches this season. The RFU panel's decision will be communicated in due course.