Yeandle set for Irish test

Exeter Chiefs captain Jack Yeandle looks to find a way through the Gloucester defensive line during their Aviva Premiership clash at Kingsholm. Picture: Getty Images

By Mark Stevens

Jack Yeandle believes a return to home comforts is just what is needed as Exeter Chiefs look to bounce back to winning ways in the Aviva Premiership against London Irish this Saturday (3pm).

Club captain Yeandle was as disappointed as anyone after the champions kicked off the new season with a 28-21 defeat away to Gloucester last Friday.

Jason Woodward’s last-gasp try proved the difference between the two on the night, although Yeandle felt his side could easily have come away with more, had they kept their game plan going for the full 80 minutes at Kingsholm.

“Friday was disappointing for all the boys because for quite large parts of that game we were really in control of things,” said the Exeter hooker. “We had laid some strong foundations, we were performing well, and doing things that we normally do quite well. However, we didn’t quite finish things off and we allowed the Gloucester crowd to get up and really get behind their team. That allowed them to get back into things, they fire a few shots at us and, ultimately, they took them in the end.”

With Chiefs No.8 Sam Simmonds racing over for two converted first half tries, hopes were high Rob Baxter’s side could kick on in the second period and silence the renowned Cherry & Whites support.

Jack Yeandle prepares to throw in a line-out against Gloucester. Picture: @PPAUK

Sadly, they did not materialise as the hosts stole in front with Ben Morgan’s try, only for Olly Woodburn to counter at the other end.

England international Henry Slade had the chance to put the Chiefs back in front with a late penalty chance, but he pulled his long-range kick just wide of the mark and Gloucester made the most of the let-off, flooring their rivals in added-on time when Woodward bulldozed over for a try on his debut.

Although a tough pill to swallow, Yeandle insisted post-match that there were still plenty of positives to take from the game - and that they must be used as the building block for this week’s game plan against newly-promoted Irish, who kicked off their own season by beating Harlequins in the London Double Header at Twickenham.

“As I said, large parts of the Gloucester game were very good,” added Yeandle. “What we need to do going forward, however, is be the aggressors and squeeze the opposition, not be passive and force the opposition into mistakes. If we’re honest, our error count was quite high [at Gloucester] and we went away at times from doing the things we should be doing.

“Yes, there are work-ons to do, most notably the result, but I don’t think we need to change things massively. I think a good week of training ahead of the Irish game and we should be firing on all cylinders.”

Saturday’s clash against the Exiles will be Exeter’s first Premiership home game since winning the title back in May - and Yeandle says being back on home soil will be a great feeling for him and his team-mates.

“We love playing at home at Sandy Park,” he continued. “If you look back to Friday, the thing they let back in the game was that we allowed their fans to get noisy. There is nothing better than having your own fans cheering you on, so we’re all very excited to be back this weekend.”

And as for the title of defending champions on their back, Yeandle insists the Chiefs are more than happy to take on that pressure moving forward.

“It’s not something we are overly concerned about,” he said. “Right now, there is good excitement around the squad and a real buzz about us. To get that, though, you have to earn it - that doesn’t just happen overnight. If we want to be better, which we do, we have to be the side that force teams into mistakes and keeping our brand of rugby on the field. Against Gloucester we went away from that too many times and they came away with the result. Hopefully, we will put it right against Irish at the weekend.”

Tickets for Saturday’s clash with Irish, which will also allow you to watch the Exeter Braves in Aviva A League action after the final whistle against Bristol United, are still available.


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