Armand targets rapid response
By Mark Stevens
Don Armand believes it won't take much to help Exeter Chiefs rediscover their winning formula, after they slipped to a rare home defeat against Worcester at the weekend.
The visiting Warriors became the first side since Bath in October 2016 to emerge victorious from Sandy Park, edging out the reigning Aviva Premiership champions 6-5 in a low-scoring Round 14 encounter.
Defeat for the Chiefs, coupled with a win for Saracens over Newcastle Falcons, means Exeter's lead at the summit of the standings has now been reduced to just two points.
Next best are Wasps, who themselves maintained third spot in the standings with a 44-22 victory at Harlequins, this despite having centre Kyle Eastmond sent off for a high tackle.
Wasps provide the next opposition for Rob Baxter's side this Sunday at the Ricoh Arena and England international Armand is confident the match will help quickly re-focus the minds for both himself and his Chiefs team-mates.
"The Premiership is getting more and more competitive by the week," said the 29-year-old forward. "We're heading towards the business end of the season and every team will be on top of their game. Perhaps this result will serve as a good lesson to us that we have to make sure we are on our game every time, if not you end up paying the price."
Trailing to two first half penalties from Worcester full-back Chris Pennell, the Chiefs responded after the break with an unconverted try from lock Mitch Lees. However, despite dominating for long periods during the second half, they couldn't turn pressure into points and it was the Midlanders who held firm for a first-ever top flight win over their hosts.
"It was a frustrating performance from us," added Armand. "Also, they pitched up and played with a lot of heart and had some good tactics on the day. At the same time, we were inaccurate in a lot of what we wanted to do and probably waited a lot to see what would happen before we really reacted.
"Fair play to them, they managed to close the game out well at the end, but we didn't take our chances when they were there."
As Armand rightly points out, however, the wait to put things right is not a long one and with the Chiefs back in training on Tuesday, the planning for Sunday's trip to the Midlands is already up and running.
"It's an easy fix and more of an awareness thing on our part," he continued. "If it wasn't an easy fix, then teams would have been doing that to us all season. We will learn from the game, there is no doubt about that, and we'll look to be stronger again next week.
"Wasps, we know, is always an exciting encounter. We've played them a lot over the last few years, so it will be interesting to see how we pitch up, how they pitch up, and what kind of game we can produce."