Whitten demands big response
By Mark Stevens
Irishman Ian Whitten insists ‘lessons must be learnt’ in the wake of a first Gallagher Premiership defeat of the season for the Exeter Chiefs.
Rob Baxter’s surrendered their 100 per cent record in the top flight last Friday when they were undone 28-26 by Harlequins at The Stoop.
On a disappointing night for the Devonians, it took a late try from Whitten to ensure they at least headed home with some reward.It was his touchdown that not only ensured the Chiefs hauled themselves back to within seven points of their rivals, but it was also Exeter’s fourth score on the night, ensuring they departed with two losing bonus points.
Those two points ensured it was not all doom and gloom for the visitors on the night, but Whitten was quick to stress that there were part of the Chiefs game that needed to be addressed.
“It’s always disappointing to lose any game of rugby,” said the 31-year-old back. “If we’re honest with ourselves, I don’t think we performed as well as we could have.
“Yes, we fought to the end - which is what we always do - but in truth we weren’t good enough. Two points is obviously better than no points, but all of us are very disappointed in there now because we know we can play much better than that.”
Although the Chiefs have been brushing aside the majority of their Premiership rivals, Whitten believes there is still more to come from him and his team-mates - and that errors like those produced in the capital could ultimately cost the club when it comes to the key games at the end of the season.
“As I said, we’re disappointed with the result. Hopefully, we can learn from this and move on quickly. Some of the mistakes, though, we have been making for a few weeks now. It kind of makes you think are we ever going to learn our lessons, because if we don’t, then we’re never going to win anything.
“It’s alright winning eight games in a row now, but it doesn’t win you anything.If you want to be the best team, you have to learn as you go along. Right now, we have to ask ourselves are we doing that?”
League matters will take an enforced break for the next fortnight as the Chiefs prepare to tackle Gloucester in two huge European Champions Cup fixtures.
The Chiefs welcome the Cherry & Whites to Sandy Park on Saturday (1pm), before the two meet again on Friday, December 14 at KIngsholm (7:45pm).
Whitten underlined the importance of both fixtures, particularly with the Chiefs bottom of Pool 2, having yet to win a game in their opening two games.
“It’s a big game for us,” he added. “We’ve got to win, if we don’t, then we’re probably out.The pressure is definitely on us, so we’re going to need a big performance at the weekend.”