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Hepher thrilled by turnaround


Exeter Chiefs backs coach Ali Hepher was delighted with his side's response to defeat last week

Exeter Chiefs backs coach Ali Hepher was delighted with his side's response to defeat last week

Exeter Chiefs backs coach Ali Hepher was delighted with his side's response to defeat last week

Exeter Chiefs backs coach Ali Hepher believes that his young side are maturing after they got back to winning ways with a 44-24 triumph over London Irish.

Hepher felt their performance proved they had learnt a harsh lesson from last week's defeat to Newcastle as they climbed to third in the Aviva Premiership table following their bonus-point win.

"Our mental approach and preparation for the game was excellent and they have turned it round very quickly in a week," he said.

"If that is what we learnt last week, then that's great because there were a lot of positives out there.

"Every man stood up and got themselves in the right frame of mind and we know that we are capable of beating a lot of sides if we do that. It was pleasing to get the bonus point because we have been on three tries for the past two weeks.

"That has been a little frustrating because we always want to target as many points as we can get - and we took advantage of that. We applied pressure in the second half and didn't give them a sniff back into the game until the final 10 minutes."

Exeter take a break from the Premiership for two rounds of both the European Challenge Cup and the LV= Cup before travelling to Franklins Gardens in mid-November to face league leaders Northampton Saints.

"We are a little disappointed from this opening block of six league games because we have left some points out there," added Hepher.

"But equally we have picked some up and probably ahead of schedule but we have some tough Premiership games ahead of us.

"We'll regroup and look to prepare for that so that we can push our game on in that period and come back a better side when we play at Northampton. We learnt lessons from the two games that we lost and have made amends."

The Chiefs crossed for five tries with two from Damian Welch and one each for Carl Rimmer, Henry Slade and Don Armand. Fly-half Gareth Steenson landed five conversions and three penalties for a 19-point haul.

The Exiles only points of the opening 40 minutes came through a Shane Geraghty penalty but crossed for three tries in the final 10 minutes of the game with two from Blair Cowan and one by Andrew Fenby, which were all converted by Geraghty.

London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith said that Exeter's try on the stroke of half time broke their backs and turned what would have been a contest then into a salvage operation.

"We were then playing for pride; we ran everything and opened ourselves up to two more counter-attacks from our half. We were playing catch-up and we got burnt," said Smith as his side slumped to their first away defeat of the season.

"Fair play to Exeter because they are a very good team and they played the conditions brilliantly. They have an outstanding defence and we weren't at the office in the first half defensively - that is disappointing.

"It was a disappointing changing room after the game; the captain is unhappy and I'm unhappy but we will have to look at the tape of the game. Last night we had two boys go down with viral type stuff and by kick off we had five blokes down."