Appleby critical despite win on the road

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Spanish prop Laura Delgado carries the ball forward for the Exeter Chiefs in their clash with DMP Durham Sharks in the Allianz Premier 15s on Saturday

By Harry Scott-Munro

Exeter Chiefs head coach Susie Appleby admitted she was somewhat ‘disappointed’, despite watching her side secure back-to-back victories in this season’s Allianz Premier 15s.

Two first half scores from winger Garnet MacKinder, alongside further tries from Laura Delgado and Kate Zackary ensured the visitors had secured the all-important bonus point by half time at the Northern Echo Arena.

And the Chiefs added a fifth try after the break from Spanish star Patricia Garcia as they wrapped up a 31-6 victory against bottom club DMP Durham Sharks.

Exeter’s victory lifted Appleby’s side to sixth in the current standings, but the Chiefs coach was far from happy come the final whistle.

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American centre Gabby Cantorna looks for a way through for the Chiefs

‘’I’m not satisfied,’’ said Appleby. ‘’We were poor. We played with some very good individual bits, but this isn’t an individual sport, it’s a team sport. We never quite got it together. A couple of tries, we’ll look back and we’ll go okay there was patience in that. We built it and we scored because it’s not a complicated game.’’

After a slow start in misty conditions, DMP Sharks took an early 3-0 lead before the Chiefs responded well, relying on the strength of their forward pack to haul themselves into an advantage that they never relinquished.

However, a number of loose passes and knock-ons saw Chiefs struggle to hammer home their clear advantage, something that frustrated Appleby.

‘’We were just rushing things or making poor decisions and giving the ball back,” she said. “They didn’t do very much to be fair, they just kept kicking the ball in the air and testing us out, so it’s a bit disappointing to be honest.

‘’This week, I think we gave up ball in attack and defence, we gave away an unbelievable amount of ball and that’s really disappointing in our defence. The theme is, last week we gave away nine possessions unforced, from knock-ons, plus another three penalties in attack.’’

The match also saw a first outing in a Chiefs shirt for second-row Alex Powell. Appleby was pleased to see her back on the field, but also stressed that today was about presenting a chance for Powell to return to competitive action following injury:

‘’She did alright, she settled in. I think Powelly will say she’s a bit off as it’s her first game back, but she got an opportunity, she’s back on the field.’’

Appleby was at pains though to praise the competition for places and desire to improve within her side, adding: ‘’Hopefully, will get a couple of other people back from injuries in the next couple of weeks and then there’s starting to be real competition for the shirts, which is really good.’

‘’Hopefully, it drives them into a really strong two weeks training and looking quite harshly at themselves because they’re all disappointed, we are all disappointed. To go away on the road and get a win and be disappointed I guess that bodes well for the future.’’

The Chiefs go into the second rest week of the Allianz Premier 15s season on the back of two consecutive victories, but with high-flying Wasps next on the agenda, Appleby remains grounded.

‘’We’ve got some tough weeks ahead of us. We’ve got Wasps, then we’ve got Sarries and then we’ve got Loughborough Lightning, so we’ve got some good competition ahead, which is good because we’ll find out what we’re really about.”

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