Chiefs hungry for more glory - Innard
By Alfie Martin
Jack Innard says there is a real sense of hunger amongst the Exeter Chiefs ranks after the Devonians found their winning formula once more, securing a 25-18 Premiership Rugby Cup victory over Bath at the weekend.
The 23-year-old hooker was full of praise for for his team’s efforts, a result which lifted them to the top of Pool One, and the perfect outcome after they had drawn their opening fixture away to Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park.
Reflecting on the victory, the Cornish-born front rower commended the team’s performance, adding that it didn’t come without a challenge.
“We were slightly disappointed with our form after Newcastle,” said Innard. “We felt like we let ourselves down, so to come back to a home crowd and put in a good performance against a strong Bath side, it felt pretty good.C
In testing conditions at Sandy Park, the Chiefs produced a powerful first half display that yielded tries for both James Short and former Bath centre Ollie Devoto. Winger Tom O'Flaherty extended Exeter's advantage after the break, before the visitors hit back strongly in the final quarter to earn themselves a losing bonus point.
“It’s always windy here at Sandy Park, we played into the wind in the first half so we knew it was going to be a tough ask," explained Innard. “Fair play to Wilhelm [Van Der Sluys], he made it easier for me throwing it in and the forwards did a good job helping me out in the line.”
Innard is just one of a number of stars who have risen through the academy ranks at the club over the years, and he insists that this competition is the perfect opportunity for aspiring youngsters to develop their game on the big stage.
“This competition definitely is great exposure for any youngster and when the opportunities arise you’ve got to take them,” he added. “The coaches aren’t afraid of picking out the players that are doing well in this competition. Sam [Simmonds] is a great example of that, playing his way from the Anglo-Welsh Cup into the Premiership team. It’s a great stepping stone for anyone.”
The Chiefs have their eyes on a second consecutive Premiership Rugby Cup title after lifting the trophy back in March with victory over Bath at Kingsholm.
“No team has done it before, so it’s definitely a real target for us to go back-to-back,” said Innard. “There’s a real hunger and drive and not just for the guys in this competition. Players here are always looking to progress and make it into that Premiership side and you can really tell that on the pitch.”
Rolling the clocks forward to this weekend, where Exeter face-off against Harlequins at home, Innard is excited at the prospect of keeping up momentum and maintaining the Chiefs’ restored winning form.
“Harlequins are always a tough side so we need to do our homework and regroup before we look forward to next week. We’re at home two weeks in a row, we’re going to back ourselves to get wins two weeks in a row. Our eyes are on the five points, but first things first, we're going to enjoy today’s win.”