Yeandle predicts bright future ahead
By Mark Stevens
As Jack Yeandle trudged out of Twickenham on Saturday evening, once again feeling the hurt of losing another Premiership Rugby Final at the hands of rivals Saracens, the Exeter skipper looked to the future and a positive outlook for the Chiefs.
Unlike the previous year where Rob Baxter's were probably guilty of failing to fire a shot at the Londoners in the end of season showpiece, this time round there was no such worry as the Devonians played their part in a classic encounter at HQ.
Aussie scrum-half Nic White put them ahead with the fastest try in Premiership Rugby Final history, after just 27 seconds, and at one stage in the second half they led by 11 points against Mark McCall's men.
Saracens, however, do what they do best, forming as a collective to produce a comeback for the ages as Liam Williams, Sean Maitland and Jamie George all crossed to seal a 37-34 victory and break Exeter hearts.
Yet, having finished top of the regular-season Gallagher Premiership Rugby table and outplayed the European and domestic double winners for large stretches at Twickenham, hooker Yeandle believes there are plenty of positives for Chiefs to take.
“Bar the chaotic first five minutes of the game, we felt kind of in charge in a lot of areas,” he explained. “Particularly when we started to play a bit and really went for it towards the end of the first half, we were causing them some problems.
“We spoke before the game about our five-metre attack and being a bit bloody-minded when we got there. It was successful, we got a lot of joy out of it and we also spoke about the belief.
“We felt a lot more in charge in this game, so it felt different to last year. Last year, we were always chasing whereas this time, we were a lot more assertive. Our defence was pretty good as well and we were much more dominant for large periods of that game.
“We have stayed at our task and stuck with what we have done. I am proud of the boys as we have had a good season but we fell at the last hurdle.”
The likes of Yeandle, centre Henry Slade, full-back Jack Nowell and flanker Dave Ewers particularly impressed for Exeter, who rose to the magnitude of the occasion.
But the resilience demonstrated by Saracens to come back from the brink was a sight to behold, and Yeandle was quick to pay tribute to the opposition.
“The try we got in the second half extended our lead to 11 points and it just got a bit too grey as to what we were doing after that,” admitted Yeandle. “You have to give full credit to Saracens for making it difficult for us, putting us under pressure and squeezing us into making a few little mistakes that grew and grew. We have to give Saracens credit for how they came back at us but it definitely hurts.”