Playing With Confidence And Strength In Depth At Exeter

Playing With Confidence And Strength In Depth At Exeter

We end our Aviva Premiership season against champions Saracens on Saturday. Away from home with them needing a win to try and get a home semi-final, I doubt there could be many tougher finishes to our second season in the top flight.

It’s not only Sarries who have something to play for. A win at Vicarage Road and a defeat for Northampton against Worcester and we would be in the semi-finals.

That may be a tough ask with the Saints at home but stranger things have happened, especially on a last day that is traditionally filled with tension at most grounds.

If we don’t make the last four, we have the satisfaction of having already made next season’s Heineken Cup draw.

Along with those short-term successes, I believe one of the lasting legacies of this season is much more long term.

For so long, Exeter have been known as a tough side to beat with a good pack and solid set-piece.

But I have also heard people say that we have a limited game plan and just play to our strengths in the forwards.

Maybe we have listened to what people say about us a little too much at times in that we just have a good pack and like to grind down opponents.

That has changed this season, especially after Christmas.

Head coach Rob Baxter has given us license to go out there and not be afraid of making mistakes.

That has bred confidence and we have been doing a lot of work on our attacking skills and off-loading.

We know that we needed to take the next step and develop an understanding to really attack games of rugby.

I like to think that with the way we have played with ambition in the second half of the season might have caused a few people to sit up and take notice.

Maybe we won’t be pigeonholed as a big bunch of forwards and little else from now on.

And as a side, to know that we can take our game to different levels and vary the way we want to play has given us even more confidence as a group.

I can’t end this blog without congratulating the club on lifting the A League title this week with a win over Harlequins in the final.

It shows the depth we have here at Sandy Park and that depth is creates the competition which has led to such a successful campaign.

Read more from Chris Whitehead.

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