Chiefs on the rise, says Welch
By Mark Stevens
Damian Welch believes the Exeter Chiefs are making significant steps in the right direction after recording back-to-back Aviva Premiership victories.
The imposing lock, who was signed last summer from the Scarlets, claimed his maiden score for the club in the recent 47-16 home win over London Welsh - and then followed suit last Saturday as he claimed Exeter's opening try in their 27-16 win away to reigning champions Harlequins.
Now, Welch is hoping the Devon club can maintain their improvement in form when they welcome third-placed Leicester Tigers to Sandy Park later this month in the televised clash on Saturday, March 23 (5pm).
"We're already looking forward to the Leicester game," admitted the 30-year-old forward. "It's another big game for the club and all the more special because it will be at home."
With a proud home record to defend - only Northampton Saints have won at Sandy Park in the top flight this season - Welch says the Chiefs will be doing all they can to maintain that form against a strong Tigers outfit, who last weekend blasted Sale Sharks out of the water 48-10 at Welford Road.
"Before the London Welsh game it was a bit of a tough time for us all," said Welch. "We needed to get back on the horse again and everybody in the camp knew we weren't fulfilling our potential or playing to our full potential. Winning against Welsh was one step in the right direction and this week [against Harlequins] was another step forward.
"Right now, as you can imagine, the guys are on a high. After beating Welsh we knew we had to back it up this week, so if you are going to try and back it up, who better than the reigning champions at home."
Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson led the way for the visitors against Conor O'Shea's men as he landed 17 points with the boot, but he was also influential in helping set up the tries for Welch and club-mate Luke Arscott.
Reading-born Welch dived over for his second score in as many weeks to help ensure the win - and he admits it's somewhat of an unusal feeling getting on the try chart so frequently.
"Everything seems to be going well at the moment,I'd rather get two in two weeks that none at all," said Welch, who has had to bide his time to get fully integrated into the Exeter first team picture this season.
However, his patient approach has paid dividends and now he wants to help the Chiefs in their quest to ensure Heineken Cup rugby returns to the Westcountry again next season.
"I'm loving it here and that is why I came to the club, I want to be playing in these big games and against the top sides," added Welch. "My aim is just to get as many minutes under my belt as possible, so the more the better as far as I am concerned."
Welch has also praised the team spirit that exists within the Chiefs ranks, stating: "The character of the boys in this club is second to none. You don't get a bunch of boys like this very often and it's one of the things that will never be absent from the changing room. All the time we're looking to re-inforce that character in everything that we do."
Tickets for the Leicester Tigers encounter are continuing to sell fast, so if you have not booked your place yet, you are advised to either book online by clicking here or call into the Trading Post, which is open Monday to Friday from 10am tp 4pm.