Skipper Dean Mumm says it’s only right that the Exeter Chiefs put pressure on themselves ahead of Saturday’s Aviva Premiership encounter with Gloucester at Sandy Park.
Saturday’s 31-14 loss at local rivals Bath meant it was successive defeats for Rob Baxter’s side over the festive period – and Mumm knows it won’t get any easier for him and his team-mates with the Cherry & Whites next on the agenda.
That said, a return to home comforts will be most welcome for the Devon club, who will start as favourites with the bookies. Back in September they claimed one of their seven league victories this season when they triumphed 25-22 against Gloucester at Kingsholm.
Mumm sat out that success as he was still recovering from a summer shoulder operation, but the experienced Australian international is expected to be involved in this latest match-up, which he has described as a “must-win” for the Chiefs.
“What a great game to start 2015 with,” said the 30-year-old.
“We’ll be pleased to get back at home again against what is a vastly improving Gloucester side, so it’s a big game for us, probably a must win.
“We’re comfortable with putting pressure on ourselves and, as I said, it’s lovely to be back home in front of our fans, so we should expect a performance.”
With just one defeat on home turf this season – that was against Leicester Tigers back in September – the Chiefs are hoping to rediscover their winning formula after tough away days at Sale and Bath. Paddy Power have Chiefs at 7/2 to finish as the top West Country team.
“Saturday was certainly a tough old game, but I do think it was an improvement in terms of our performance last week at Sale,” added Mumm.
“In the first half we probably had the better of things and we won the crucial moments, but as the game went on, we then started to lose them.
“We came out well at the start of the second half and capitalised on a few things, but when you look at the whole game, we spent a lot of time in their 22 and didn’t get a lot of pay from it.
“We probably lost the breakdown battle and – as the game went on – we then started to lose the set-piece battle, so you won’t beat top four sides if you give them access like we did in the second half.”
For an hour at least at the Rec, the Chiefs more than held their own against Mike Ford’s star-studded Bath outfit, but the introduction of a handful of international stars off the home bench proved pivotal as they finished the contest the stronger.
“The turning point was the turnover line-out where they drove us back from just outside our 22,” remarked Mumm.
“If we’re honest, we were not as good on turnovers as we have been previously. They are crucial areas, especially against a quality defensive side like Bath, and they are opportunities you have to take to get points.”
Although defeated, Mumm insisted there were positives to take from the Bath game and he’s confident that a solid training week will ensure his side are in fine fettle for the visit of Gloucester.
He continued: “I think we can be proud of our effort and endeavour. What we have to do, though, is tighten up on a few details which will allow us to build some more pressure. As I said, the performance was definitely a step forward from the previous week in terms of the contact area and the physicality we brought to the game.
“We just have to iron out one or two little things and we won’t be too far away.”