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Ali Hepher: Gloucester win sets Exeter up nicely for two-week Premiership break

Published 09/01/2016

Ali Hepher was pleased with Exeter's defensive effort in the win over Gloucester
Ali Hepher was pleased with Exeter's defensive effort in the win over Gloucester

Exeter Chiefs backs coach Ali Hepher admits it was all about the points rather than the performance as the Sandy Park outfit preserved their year-long unbeaten home record in wretched conditions at the expense of Gloucester.

Thomas Waldrom barrelled over twice in the space of four minutes early on and, allied to a further first-half try through Olly Woodburn, Chiefs were more or less out of sight by half-time.

Gloucester, the last victors at Sandy Park on January 3, 2015, got off the mark through a Greig Laidlaw penalty in the 45th minute and snatched a glimmer of hope when Charlie Sharples crossed with 10 minutes left.

But Exeter saw the game out 19-10 to record their seventh Aviva Premiership win of the season - and go into a pivotal European game at Bordeaux with their tails up.

"At the start of the day we would have taken four points," said Hepher. "To not concede a losing bonus point is obviously important.

"It was one of those days when you just have to battle through it and not having the ball was the best option. We showed good enthusiasm and intent to battle away and got our tries off our defensive work.

"We played pretty well with the conditions and all in all we are really pleased. This sets us up nicely for the two-week break in the Premiership."

But there will be some concern for both Chiefs and England's staff over the fitness of Jack Nowell, who was forced off through injury late on.

"It's a bit of a twist of his knee," added Hepher. "Unfortunately he has got twisted between two bodies and had to come off so we will wait and see.

"You don't know with these knee injuries and sometimes the least painful ones can be the longest out. So we will obviously get him assessed in the week."

It has so far been another season of inconsistency for Gloucester, with their Premiership stat line reading won four, lost four and drawn one - the 39-39 thriller with Harlequins at Twickenham.

And director of rugby David Humphreys admits his side were architects of their own downfall here.

"The consensus was to play into the wind in the first half," he said.

"It was disappointing from our perspective to concede two tries in the first 10 minutes and three tries in the first 20 minutes, all of which came from our mistakes.

"That was the disappointing aspect of the game but credit to Exeter. Both teams tried to play rugby in horrific conditions.

"It was about the team that made the least mistakes and today the mistakes were key. Against a team as good as Exeter, to be 19-0 down is a long way back.

"But we showed great character and we played good rugby because they defend well."

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