Hard work continues for Exe
By Mark Stevens
Exeter Chiefs winger Matt Jess says the hard work is continuing in earnest at Sandy Park as he and his team-mates edge ever closer to their seasonal opener in the Aviva Premiership against Sale Sharks on September 1.
The Devon club kicked off their pre-season campaign on Saturday with a narrow 8-6 home defeat against Irish visitors Connacht - and this Saturday they continue their build-up with another home assignment, this time against Championship outfit Cornish Pirates (2pm).
Rob Baxter's side conclude their programme with an away date at Glasgow Warriors on Thursday, September 23 before getting stuck into the cut and thrust of English rugby's top flight.
Jess knows these next few weeks are vital in helping create the foundation for Exeter's seasonal objectives and says the club must look to get as much as possible out of the forthcoming clashes with Glasgow and his former club Pirates.
It is some nine years since the 28-year-old speedster made his senior bow for the Pirates and although his rugby career has taken him to destinations at Newport-Gwent Dragons, Ebbw Vale and Launceston before settling in Exeter, Jess has kept close tabs on his former club.
"The Pirates were great in my time down there and I still keep in touch with a lot of the players at the club," he said. "Cornish Pirates are not going to be an easy side to play against and they've recruited well in recent years. We've had them in pre-season friendlies before and it will be another good battle between us.
"I know they are a good unit and I like the style of play they have adopted over the last couple of years. It is good to see it been rewarded with two Championship finals – they are not far away from going one better. They will want to impress this weekend and it will be another interesting game."
Certainly the Chiefs will be looking to crank up the gears both this weekend and against Glasgow after suffering defeat against Connacht last time out.
"It was tough, they [Connacht] were a good strong unit and we we're trying to test all the things we've worked on in pre-season," said Jess. "We tried to attack the game and play under our own terms and I think we did that in certain periods and we should have done it a bit more.
"We have looked at the video, as forwards, backs and as a group and we could see what we could have done better. We broke them a few times, but we need to refine how we finish them off. That will come as we progress. It is just about getting your support runners there but at least we are creating chances.
"There is a lot to work on, but we will take massive strides forward now."