O'Flaherty wary of Quins' threat
By Mark Stevens
Tom O’Flaherty has warned Exeter Chiefs will need to be “on their guard” when Harlequins visit Sandy Park this week in round three of this season’s Premiership Rugby Cup.
Having kicked off their campaign with victory over Bath a fortnight, the Londoners came unstuck last time out when Newcastle Falcons triumphed 23-21 at The Stoop.
That loss card 24 hours after the Chiefs had themselves picked up their first win in the competition, defeating Bath 25-18 on home soil to move to the top of Pool 1 on points difference over the Falcons, who they had shared the spoils with in the opening round.
A dominant first half display, which included tries for both James Short and Ollie Devoto, paved the way for Exeter’s first win in a month.O’Flaherty then got in on the scoring act himself early in the second half, only for Bath to stage a powerful fightback in the last quarter.
Although it was a much-needed victory for the Chiefs, who are looking to make it back-to-back successes in the competition following their triumph back in March, O’Flaherty believes there is still more to come from himself and his team-mates, starting with the visit of Quins’ this Saturday.
“After a couple of draws and a loss, that win was definitely needed,” said the London-born winger. “It wasn’t our best performance by any means, but we did what we needed to on the day.Bath are a very good side and they really came at us in that second half.Thankfully, we showed great endeavour - especially towards the end of the game - to keep them at bay and get what was a pretty attritional win in the end.”
More of the same will be craved again by the Chiefs and their fans this Saturday as they prepare to welcome a Harlequins outfit, who themselves know a victory in Devon will help propel them back into contention for qualification into the latter rounds of the newly-named Cup competition.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game,” warned O’Flaherty. “Quins’ are one of those unpredictable sides, who like to try things out on the pitch. They’ve got talented guys in their squad, so we will have to be on our guard and quell any momentum they will want to get in the game.
“At the same time, we’re a good side and we’ve seen over these last few weeks the strength in depth that exists within our squad. We’ve got lots of guys chomping at the bit, who’ve not had a lot of game time, who want to get out there and play some rugby. Everyone within the group is pushing hard, not just to win this game, but every game we play.
“We won this competition last season and there is a real hunger amongst the guys to do it again this season.All we can do is try and keep improving and the best way to do that is to get out there and play. “