Chiefs side to face Pirates

Pictures: Exeter Rugby Club/Pinnacle Photo Agency

By Mark Stevens

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter says he wants to see a step up in intensity from his team when they entertain the Cornish Pirates in their second pre-season fixture tomorrow (3pm).

Having kicked off their pre-season campaign with a narrow 8-6 loss at home to Connacht last Saturday, the Chiefs will be looking for an immediate return to winning ways against a Pirates outfut, who last season finished runners-up in the Championship behind London Welsh.

"We're looking forward to Saturday because it's a game we definitely need," admitted Baxter. "There is no doubt we were a little rusty against Connacht last week, but there are reasons for that and we're not overly concerned. Coming into last week the guys had been on a 10-day break, whilst before that we had a three-day training camp with the Marines, so it was pretty much two weeks since they last chucked a ball around.

"We put down more passes and turned over more ball last weekend than I've ever seen us do before, but we've had a full-on week this week and we certainly won't be using those excuses again if we make the same basic errors this Saturday."

Indeed, Baxter feels that having had a full game week to fine tune certain elements of his side's play, the Chiefs will be back in fine fettle for the visit of their Duchy visitors.

"When we analysed the game, a lot of what we have worked on in pre-season with regards to shape both in attack and defence was evident," said the coach. "What we didn't manage to do was hold onto the ball for that next phase or two and exploit the space we were creating. As I said, we looked comfortable defensively for large parts, but we got stung by a silly turnover for their try and then didn't do enough to get back in front again.

"This week I'm looking for a big improvement in terms of our accuracy and execution, as well as a big step up in intensity."

Standing in the way of the Chiefs will be a strong Pirates side that includes former Exeter players Alan Paver, Tom Bedford and Junior Fatialofa in their ranks.

"The Pirates will be coming here in what is a local derby and looking to perform well," warned Baxter. "They've recruited well over the summer and they look like they have a strong side.

"We are big believers in the quality of the Championship, not just because we have come from there ourselves, but also because we've done our recruitment from that level.l I know people have different opinions on the Championship play-offs, but the Pirates were the second best team in the Championship last season and they had two good game against London Welsh who are now in the Premiership.

"I've no doubt they are a real challenge, so we must go out and play well and make sure the game is about us."

Of last weekend's starting XV only two (Sireli Naqelevuki and Josh Tatupu) will figure from the outset tomorrow. That means many of Baxter's newcomers and those yet to feature this term will be given the chance to go out and impress.

"It's an opportunity for the new guys for sure," said Baxter. "As we always say, new players don't tend to come in and go straight into the team. If they come in they have to fight their way in and they have to work extremely hard and show the other guys what quality players they are and demand a place in the starting line-up."


15 Luke Arscott
14 Mark Foster
13 Sireli Naqelevuki
12 Jason Shoemark
11 Josh Tatupu
10 Ignacio Mieres
9 Will Chudley
1 Brett Sturgess
2 Simon Alcott
3 Craig Mitchell
4 Damian Welch
5 Aly Muldowney
6 James Phillips
7 Tom Johnson
8 Kai Horstmann

16 Jack Yeandle
17 Carl Rimmer
18 Chris Budgen
19 Will Carrick-Smith
20 Dave Ewers
21 Ben White
22 Justin Blanchet
23 Junior Poluleuligaga
24 Myles Dorrian
25 Nic Sestaret
26 Jack Arnott
27 Jack Nowell
28 Sam Hill

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