Braves display delights Thomas
By Mark Stevens
Haydn Thomas spoke of his delight after Exeter Braves continued their perfect start to the new Premiership Rugby Shield campaign with victory over Bristol Bears on Sunday.
Having clocked up five-point wins against Saracens Storm and Bath United in their opening two games, the Braves were able to pocket another maximum haul in their 47-26 win at Sandy Park.
No.8 Tom Lawday did much of the damage for the hosts, claiming three of their seven tries on the day, while international stars Greg Holmes, Onehunga Kaufusi and Michele Campagnaro also found their way over the whitewash with a Penalty Try completing the scoring.
Bristol, who played their part in an entertaining encounter, countered with tries through Jake Heenan (2), Ryan Edwards and Dan Thomas, three of which were converted by Sam Bedlow, but it was not enough to stop their more powerful opponents.
Post-game, Senior Academy coach Thomas was quick to praise the display of the Braves. He said: "It's another win for and us and another five points. We probably didn't do ourselves justice in the first 30 minutes of the game, but after that it was a very strong performance and one with which we can be very happy with."
A fast start from the Bears saw them storm into a 14-0 lead before the Braves clawed their rivals back to lead 21-14 at the break. The second period was more comfortable for the hosts, who sit third in the Southern Group, a point behind leaders Saracens and level with next-best Harlequins, both of whom have played a game more.
"It took us a while to get into the game," added Thomas. "It took a run from Flats [Tom O'Flaherty] to kind of ignite us, but once we were up and running I thought there were some good individual efforts out there.
"Tom Lawday was probably the pick of them, I thought he was outstanding. He's been getting better and better, week by week, and there is a lot to like about him. He has an eagerness to improve, a desire to achieve, and he's taking on board everything the coaches are telling him to make him a better rugby layer.
"At the same time, some of other youngsters are also doing their bit and getting some really good exposure. Games like these are great opportunities for all of them and as a club we are reaping the rewards from the exposure they are getting.
"People like Alfie Petch, Danny Southworth, Max Norey - that was his first senior game in an Exeter jersey - they are all learning and it's great to see them out there working and playing alongside some of our senior guys."