O'Flaherty calls for 'ruthless' approach
By Mark Stevens
Tom O’Flaherty says Exeter Chiefs must continue to show a ‘ruthless edge’ in this season’s Gallagher Premiership, despite extending their lead at the top to eight points on Saturday.
Rob Baxter’s side notched up another five-point haul at Sixways, but they were made to fight all the way by lowly Worcester Warriors, eventually holding on for a 33-30 success.
Winger O’Flaherty – recalled to the starting line-up in place of the injured Alex Cuthbert – grabbed one of five tries on the day for the Chiefs and was a constant thorn in the Warriors side, providing a lethal, attacking back three alongside Olly Woodburn and Santiago Cordero, who were also on the scoresheet.
The trio helped the Chiefs establish a 33-18 lead heading into the last quarter, only for the Midlanders to counter late on and secure two losing bonus points of their own through tries from Ted Hill, Tom Howe and Chris Pennell.
Those late scores took a little bit of gloss of the Exeter’s performance, but O’Flaherty was adamant it was still a job well done by the Devonians, who now have 61 points in the Premiership with just six games of the regular season remaining.
“It was a good result,” said the 24-year-old. “We perhaps let things slip a little bit in the second half, but to come away with five points from an away game, you can’t really ask for any more than that.
“It was tough in the first half, particularly playing into the wind, and then second half it seemed to die down, but the boys stuck at it throughout and we got the result we wanted in the end.”
With four of Exeter’s final six games set to be played at Sandy Park, the Chiefs are very much on course to secure their place in a fourth successive Premiership play-off. Indeed, just one more victory will guarantee them a top four placing, but O’Flaherty says no one at the Devon club will be looking to take their foot off the pedal.
“We’re in a good position, exactly where we want to be, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to win all our games,” added the London-born speedster. “We want to show that ruthless edge over these final weeks, we don’t want to be banking on the buffer we’ve created to see us home.
“We know we’ve got to be on our metal every week and fly into these last few games. It’s going to be a test, of course it is, but we like a test. If you look across the division, it’s very tight and every team has something to fight for. We knew that coming into this game and it will be the same for the games we have got left.”
And with the Chiefs set to be boosted by the return of their international stars in time for the visit of Bath on Sunday, April 24, O’Flaherty acknowledges the battle for places within the match-day squad is set to intensify.
“Just looking at the back three, we’ve got lots of options there,” he added. “Santi was like a magician today, Woody was outstanding too, then we’ve got the likes of Nowellsy and Cuthy to come back into the mix as well.
“Our back three is sharp, but so too are a lot of the areas across the team. The battle is that if you have the jersey you have to try and keep it – and the only way you can do that is by making the most of the opportunity you are given.”