Dennis looking to lead from the front
By Mike Smith
Dave Dennis says he’s ready to lead from the front as Exeter Chiefs prepare to welcome Wasps to Sandy Park in the Gallagher Premiership tomorrow (3pm).
Fresh from back-to-back wins in the Heineken Champions Cup against La Rochelle and Glasgow Warriors, it’s back to domestic duty this weekend for the Devonians, who will be hoping to use those successes as the foundation for this latest match-up.
Aussie international Dennis featured in both those European victories, but was missing in Exeter’s last league assignment, which ended in a last-gasp defeat to Bristol Bears. Dan Thomas’ injury time score condemned the Chiefs to a rare home defeat - they’ve only three times in the league in as many years - and it’s a result which didn’t sit well amongst the club’s coaches and players.
The response to that setback, however, has been impressive and the 33-year-old forward is confident that the Chiefs can deliver against Dai Young’s visitors.
"We're looking forward to pushing on and building on what we've done on in the last fortnight in Europe,” he said. “It's a different competition this week,but the mentality doesn't change. That's the way we want to play and the intensity that we want to bring to the game.
“If we’re being honest, we've had a mixed back in the first four rounds of the Premiership.We're not where we want to be, but but we're confident that if we play to the standards we're capable of, then the points should sort themselves out and that's what we're looking for this weekend.”
Certainly the Bristol loss left the Chiefs frustrated, particularly as they led 17-0 at the break, but Dennis insists that result and performance has now been banished to the history books - and it’s the here and now which is the most important factor moving forward.
"It's a matter of staying in there,” he added. “The Premiership is tough. All the teams challenge you and you just can't have those moments in the game where you drop the intensity. We had that in the second half against Bristol, so fair play to them for coming back, capitalising, and taking the points at the end. You never want to lose at home - and it was a bit of an embarrassment for the boys, so it's important that we put in a performance this weekend."
The threat from Wasps, though, is equally real and past experience tells Dennis and the Chiefs that the home side won’t have it all their own way come kick-off tomorrow. Indeed, until Bristol won at Sandy Park earlier this month, it was Wasps who were the last side to topple Rob Baxter’s side on their own patch back in April
"They're a great team, with a lot of threats across the park,” warned Dennis. “They themselves haven't had the best starts in the Premiership, so they would be looking to put in a strong performance down here. They’ve made some great signings, guys like [Malakai] Fekitoa, and they big strong forwards, so we're expecting them to really go at us, and it's about how we nullify that threat.”
Confidence, however, is high within the Chiefs camp and with the squad looking strong across the board, Dennis says it’s important whoever pulls on the home jersey goes out and deliver.
"You would have seen on Monday night with the A League, the strong performance that the boys put in,” he added. “There areplenty of guys that can push forward and play in the first 15. It’s a matter of everyone who gets the opportunity, including this weekend, to put in a performance.
“Historically, we've always tried to play to a certain level and entertain our very loyal fans who turn up week in, week out. The boys are hurting a little bit from the result against Bristol, but we have a great opportunity at home this weekend."