Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Hepher: We're where we want to be

Assistant coach Ali Hepher says Exeter are in good shape as they look to cement a place in the end of season play-offs.

Exeter went second in the Aviva Premiership victory with a 74-19 demolition of relegation-bound London Welsh, with fly-half Henry Slade leading the way for the second week running with 21 points.

The Chiefs face a tough run-in with games at Leicester, Wasps and Saracens and home matches against Northampton and Sale and H epher said: "We are excited with some big games coming up - that is what you want.

"It will be great for this young side to experience these games - but we are going to go after them.

"We have a good quality side so when we approach the big teams we are going to be dangerous.

"We can't say we have nothing to lose because we have - but we are going to be excited about going after points now.

"After dropping four games over Christmas our priority was to focus on these four games. This past week we have worked harder than ever on the mental side making sure we were in good shape for this game.

"We will now shift our attention to Saturday's LV= Cup semi-final at Leicester as we are defending champions. It is going to be a tough ask going up to Welford Road but we have won there in the past - but the priority is the Premiership."

Slade crossed for one of the Chiefs' 10 tries and Hepher added: "We knew from our analysis that London Welsh can be a dangerous side and they produced some great offloads.

"They are a good team, everyone is writing them off, so it becomes a tough mental battle in the approach.

"We got through to half-time and then upped our game in the second half. Defensively we put in a better shift and were a lot more aggressive with it.

"The scrum is going well for us at the moment and that has given us the launchpad into games."

London Welsh assistant coach Ollie Smith said: " We'd be foolish as a group to think that we have always had a chance given how the season has gone. It has been very obvious that we have been battling against it.

"If we were losing games by four, five or six points we would be furious thinking 'when are we going to get over the line?' But we've not been at the races so for us it is just to keep battling on because some may, or may not, be at the club next season.

"We knew we had to come out firing against Exeter on their own patch. We came out of the blocks and got stuck into them and looked quite dangerous at times, which was quite pleasing.

"In the end their quality and physical shape probably overdid us as we ran out of steam and easily errors can get capitalised on. We struggled in the scrum - some weeks it goes your way but that wasn't the case today.

"We saw them destroy Bath's scrum last week so we tried our very hardest in that area of the game to get something to play off. But if you don't have that platform at the scrum then you are always going to struggle."


From Belfast Telegraph