Gloucester win delights Yeandle
By Alfie Martin
Jack Yeandle believes that there is ‘still room for improvement’ for the Exeter Chiefs, despite their commanding 23-6 triumph over Gloucester on Saturday.
The Devon side’s 100 per cent record in the Gallagher Premiership was maintained after the Rob Baxter’s side bagged their eighth consecutive win in the competition against the third-placed Cherry & Whites.
Tries from Nic White and Alex Cuthbert, plus 13 points from the boot of fly-half Gareth Steenson, underlined Exeter’s attacking capabilities, but it was the defensive display that club captain Yeandle insisted made the difference.
“It was really good to grind out a victory out there,” said the all-action hooker. “It was tricky conditions to play in, but I think the credit goes to our defence. We put a lot of pressure on them and forced them into a lot of mistakes, which I think made a big difference in the game.”
Wind the clocks back to the previous week and it would be a somewhat different picture. A nail-biting victory against Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate picked apart cracks in the Chiefs’ defence – something that defence coach Julian Salvi was been keen to stomp out in the week.
“Looking back on last week at Bristol, that was a really tough game and we had to fight for everything, but there were a few really basic and simple errors,” explained Yeandle. “We pride ourselves on our defence and we actually let through quite a lot of line breaks. I think that we were a lot better on the whole today.
“We’re winning games, which is great, but there’s still room for improvement. In that opening 10 minutes we were actually quite sloppy and we gave them free shots at the posts, but going through the game we seemed to stomp that out as we grew in confidence.”
With a clutch of players away on international duty at the weekend, plus the normal pick of injured players, the Chiefs have been forced to dig deep into their playing reserves in recent weeks. However, those being asked to come in have certainly stepped up, including a number of the club’s up-and-coming young guns.
Yeandle commented on the inclusion of rookie props Marcus Street and Billy Keast in the Chiefs line-up and how they rose to the challenge at scrum time.
“You have to give full credit to them. Admittedly, the scrum was a bit messy out there today, but [Billy] Keasty and [Marcus] Streety both showed maturity and really took to the challenge. They kept their strength and stability and it’s a credit to them and how hard they work.”
Baxter’s men will face Gloucester another two times in the next three weeks, and with part one of the trilogy complete, the Devon outfit can look forward to their next encounter, which is Friday night’s Premiership trip to Harlequins.
“In the short-term it’s all about taking it one game at a time,” said Yeandle. “I think it was good to lay that marker down against Gloucester and it moves us on nicely for next week. Now, it’s important to get that quick turn-around for the Quins’ game and obviously regather for when we face Gloucester next.”