Pellow praises his Chiefs
By Mark Stevens
Having called for a reaction from his team after three winless games, Exeter coach Ricky Pellow said he got the response he wanted as the Chiefs secured a 25-18 victory over Bath at Sandy Park.
After a draw and defeat in the Heineken Champions Cup, then another draw against Newcastle Falcons in the defence of their Premiership Rugby Cup crown, this was just the tonic the Devonains needed as they moved to the top of Pool One.
Tries from James Short, Ollie Devoto and Tom O'Flaherty helped pave the way for Exeter's latest win, but they were made to fight until the death by a Bath side, who hit back strongly during the final quarter of the game.
"It was an outstanding performance from us in the first half in terms of playing into the wind and how we controlled the game," said Pellow. "The effort and the fight we showed in that first 40 was exactly where we wanted it to be.
"We took ourselves into a really strong position at half-time, and we talked a lot at the interval about what we needed to do in the second half and not think we were going to win the game just because of the wind behind us.
"In certain aspects of the second half we took our foot off the gas and Bath came back into the match and got their running game going. Kahn Fotuali'i came on for them and got real tempo into the game. We struggled a little bit defensively around a few areas, but from an overall perspective, it was a great reaction from last week and we are happy to take the win."
The victory ensures the Chiefs will head into their next Cup fixture - at home to Harlequins this Saturday - in buoyant mood, but skills coach Pellow says there will be areas of their game they will need to look at ahead of the visit of the Londoners.
"We are in a strong position now in the pool going into the Harlequins game at home," said Pellow. "We won't know the balance of both line-ups until Friday, but it will be one hell of a game and it is in our hands now. If we can get a good performance and win at home, then hopefully that will be enough to push us on into that final pool game up at Bristol."
Certainly, Pellow and the Chiefs coaching staff will use Saturday's first half display as the springboard for this week's planning, but they will have noted the second period where Bath came roaring back into contention.
"I don't think there was any real clearcut moment where the momentum swung," explained Pellow. "They ripped the momentum back off us, they worked really hard to control the ball into the wind, and they carried hard.
"I think defensively we could have got off the line a lot harder and put them under pressure in that second half. From an attacking perspective, we didn't get the ball, and when we did have it we couldn't deal with our exit plays around our scrum and line-out, and we were under pressure for the last 20 minutes."