Jones off to lightning start at Chiefs

jones sharks.jpg
Exeter Chiefs full-back Olivia Jones gives her side the dream start, scoring after just 30 seconds in their 54-0 victory over Sale Sharks in the Allianz Premier 15s. Picture: JMP Sport

By Harry Scott-Munro 

As first starts go for your new club, Exeter Chiefs Women’s full-back Liv Jones couldn’t have asked for a better one, as she raced through after just 30 seconds to open her side’s account for the afternoon in a 54-0 dismantling of Sale Sharks at Sandy Park.

After disappointment on the road last week against Bristol Bears in their opening Allianz Premier 15s clash, home comforts proved to be the perfect remedy, as Chiefs scored eight tries in all.

Alongside Jones’ early effort, further tries from Kanako Kobayashi, Kate Zackary, Deleaka Menin, McKinley Hunt (2,) Ebony Jefferies and Jennine Duncan, seven of which were converted by Gabby Cantorna, took the Chiefs passed the half-century in front of a vocal Sandy Park crowd.

Having scored on her first appearance for the club in pre-season, Jones repeated the trick on Sunday afternoon, the gifted back admitting that she was pleased to show what she could do in open space.

“It was nice to get my hands on the ball again and get that experience with the girls,” she said. “I had so much chat from either side of me, so it made my job really easy for me.”

Despite the scoreline, the Chiefs still had to deal with a number of obstacles during the match, with several reshuffles of the backline. But, despite the re-adjustments, the players rose to the challenge, Jones heaping praise on the work that goes on off the field to help deal with those occurrences.

“Our training sorts us out for that [reshuffle,] so we back ourselves with what we know,” she added. “If you know your role and keep the energy high on the day, it all comes together.”

Sunday’s encounter finally saw competitive rugby return to Sandy Park, with the crowd in attendance enthralled by the Exeter performance. Having experienced a huge crowd at the pre-season encounter against Wasps, Jones was keen to highlight the impact that such vocal support has on her team’s performance.

“The buzz they give you is incredible,” she explained. “If you’re struggling and you hear them, it makes you work that little bit harder for the team. With so many people behind you, it’s just great. To have these fans here chanting and calling for us, it’s incredible.”

Having made the move from Loughborough Lightning in the summer, Jones also spoke highly of the “whole inclusive support” that comes from being a Chiefs player, emphasising the support from all corners of the club.

“It’s great, I’ve loved it [so far.] It’s great to have the chat of the boys as well. It really does feel like that whole inclusive club and everyone’s support is there.”

Having finally got their league season up and running with points on the board, this Saturday sees the Chiefs face a stern test against reigning champions Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop.

Jones understandably highlighted the need to keep the focus in the build-up to the match with her side looking to continue with the promise they showed in attack.

“We need to really hone it down with training this week and go in firing, we can’t switch off. The backline worked really well today so hopefully we can take that forward.”

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