Bonus point could be massive

Pictures: Exeter Rugby Club/Pinnacle Photo Agency Pictures: Exeter Rugby Club/Pinnacle Photo Agency

By Mark Stevens

It wasn't quite the homecoming Julian Salvi had envisaged, but the Aussie open-side feels the losing bonus point Exeter Chiefs fought back to gain against Leicester Tigers on Sunday could yet be ‘massive’ come the end of the season.

Making his first return to Welford Road since swapping life in the East Midlands for that of the Westcountry, Salvi played his part as the Chiefs went down 31-27 against his former employers, this having trailed 31-6 down early in the second half.

To their credit, Rob Baxter's side - who were not quite at the races during the first half - fought back valiantly during the second period and were rewarded with tries from Dave Lewis, Ian Whitten and Kai Hortsmann – with the final play of the game – to ensure they got within seven points of the Tigers.

And although the visitors missed out on the chance to go top of the Aviva Premiership following Saracens’ defeat against Northampton Saints 24 hours earlier, they kept up their record of taking at least a point from every match this term.

“One of the things we’ve developed as the year has gone on is not just being able to grind out wins when we need to but also being able to grind back the losing bonus point and stay in the fight when we haven’t been at our best,” said Salvi.

“Getting that one point is going to be massive in terms of the season. You never want to lose, but if you can pick up those extra points it’s going to massive come the table at the end of the year.

Jess Yellow std“Every time we’ve lost this season we’ve picked up a point, and after four losses and four points that’s the same as a win.”

The Chiefs and Leicester were locked at 3-3 after half an hour when another former Tiger, Geoff Parling gave away a penalty try and was shown a yellow card for entering a maul from the side.

The hosts quickly scored another try with a man advantage, with Leicester’s Dom Barrow and Chiefs winger Matt Jess (pictured) also sent to the cooler in the second period.

Salvi admitted the yellow cards cost his side at crucial moments in the match.

“As hard as it is, a few yellow cards hurt us a bit and we let in a few soft tries, which allowed them to sneak away from us,” he said.

“It was one of those games that was there for the taking. The first 20 minutes showed real intent from us in terms of our defence, really holding them out and they were only kicking three-pointers, which showed how determined we were to go out there and put in a good performance.

“It’s hard not to look at it too much, but going a man down is always going to be tough. We just got a few things wrong in the back end of the first half which allowed them to get two cheap tries and then at the beginning of the second half we allowed them to do it again which hurt us in the end.”

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