Match Reaction - Gareth Elliott
By Mark Stevens
Exeter Chiefs coach Gareth Elliott believes this season’s Premiership Rugby Cup exploits have already served as a decent learning curve for a number of the club’s rising stars.
Undone by Bristol Bears in their opening fixture of the competition, the Chiefs suffered a second successive defeat when they went down 45-19 to Gloucester at Kingsholm.
In what was a tough first half for the visitors, they trailed 31-0 in as many minutes, they were able to show great resolve after the break in a showing that Elliott insists had plenty of positives.
“We were second best in some areas in the first half,” he said. “Some of our basics let us down and Gloucester were able to exploit that. In the second half, we showed a lot of heart and we got back on script by coming out firing and showing some real qualities.
“At half time, we said to the players to not worry too much about the scoreboard, but instead focus on us having a really good performance in the second half. Yes, we leaked a few more points - which is disappointing - but we showed some really good attacking performances and there were certainly positives to take from that display.”
Like the players, the past fortnight has given a number of the Exeter coaches their own chance to have an input into match-day life and Elliott insists it has been a great opportunity for everyone to grow.
“I think it’s massively encouraging to see this young group test themselves agains some senior Premiership players,” he added. “Last week we showed good heart against what was a pretty senior Bristol side - then today we’ve come to a tough place like Kingsholm and given it another go.
“What this group will take from both games is that they know if they stick to what we do well and they are tough in their fundamental skills, then we can work a side over and score tries like we have. Obviously, when they review the game again on Monday, there will be key learns for all of them, but what they will also see is that when we do things well, we can be very effective.”
No.8 Rus Tuima scored Exeter’s only try in the first half, before Arthur Relton and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne crossed in the second half as they went in search of claiming the bonus point for scoring four tries.
“We just needed to be a bit more composed at times,” conceded Elliott. “We had opportunities in their 22 on a couple of occasions, but didn’t quite take them. It’s been the same with the Premiership side this season, so we need to make sure we are finishing those opportunities to put sides under pressure.”
The Chiefs will now return to top-flight action this Friday when they make the short tea to Bath for their Round Nine encounter against the league’s basement club.