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Hepher's happy

Exeter's assistant coach Ali Hepher hailed his team's first-half defensive showing for setting up their 40-6 win over Worcester.

The maximum points success in difficult conditions at Sandy Park lifted Hepher's team up to fourth place in the Aviva Premiership.

With winds sweeping into the United Kingdom from the south west, and forecast to batter the country, Exeter was not the ideal place for a rugby match.

Hepher said: "The defensive display in that first half was absolutely vital, into that wind, when you couldn't clear line from inside the 22.

"To hold them out to no tries was a phenomenal effort. Rob (Baxter, head coach) had been putting a lot of time into the defence and it is coming through really well. We have an exciting attack.

"We are pleased with where our game is at but we still have to keep pushing on and tidying up certain situations and areas of our game - we certainly saw that in the second half with the quality attack.

"That was our first bonus point of any sort in the league so that is pleasing. The guys stuck to their task and the subs, when they came on, kept pushing and putting the pressure on.

"The forwards as a whole drove well and set up the first try of the game, which was important. It is the unseen work that we have really been banging on about and if we create quick ball we are a good side."

The Exeter side included Tom Johnson, who had been released from the England squad in midweek - and Hepher hopes it will not be long before the flanker is back in Stuart Lancaster's thoughts.

Hepher said: "He (Johnson) has been right on form and also the good thing is that we are an in-form side so hopefully it gives TJ that platform to push on in the international scene.

"As far as I am concerned he has been going fantastically well - he's been carrying well, got good pace about him and he has been aggressive in defence, which goes towards a good all- round performance."

Despite Worcester still looking for their first Premiership success of the season, and only winning once away from home in their last 35 league games, director of rugby Dean Ryan says relegation is not in anyone's thoughts at the club.

"The three sides above us in the table are on nine points [seven clear of the Warriors] and one of those is Gloucester - who have only won two games - so relegation is not part of the conversation and I don't see why it should be," said Ryan.

"It doesn't mean that we don't recognise the hole that we are in, or that we are being ignorant of the fact, but there are still 16 games left and it is only a seven-point split. But we have tough opposition.

"If anyone feels that we are missing a point or can see the answer, then please let me know. We know what we are doing, we know where we are, but we lose four or five internationals now and that is just the situation we are in.

"We have three players that have only been with us for a week and we are nearly in November. To be talking about relegation is pretty poor.

"I have a huge amount of admiration about how hard the guys threw themselves into the game.

"There are some areas that I thought had improved and there is also some clarity about what we need to do.

"That is not coming in the short term, that is coming in the long term, and we are trying to manage all these things together.

"I thought elements in this game were outstanding. The reality of it is that we are short of the work culture that they have here at Exeter and other Premiership sides have."


From Belfast Telegraph