Exeter wing Matt Jess wants his team to kick-start the New Year with a bang as they play host to Gloucester in the Premiership on Saturday.
Having seen a sparkling 2014 lose a semblance of its fizz with back-to-back defeats to Sale and Bath, Rob Baxter’s side are hoping a return to home comforts this weekend will give them the perfect lift.
Sitting fourth in the standings at the halfway stage and top of both their European and LV= Cup pools, the long-serving Chiefs winger insists there is plenty to be positive about as the Devon club look to progress yet further in the second half.
And first on the agenda for the Chiefs is the visit of the Cherry and Whites, who themselves are also looking to recover after a disappointing festive period that brought home defeats against arch rivals Bath and then Wasps.
“It’s another local derby and we know what Gloucester come with – they come with great qualities and internationals and we know they’re going to be a tough side,” said Jess, who dedicated his first try of the season last weekend to his mum Mary, who sadly passed away in May.
“Saying that, we know what we want to do, we’re hungry enough to try to grab the points back that we’ve lost in the last couple of weeks. I’m sure we’ll stick tight, come through this and make sure we start the new year with a bang.”
He continued: “Fourth in the table is not a bad place to be and that’s why a lot of the boys are upbeat. There’s no point in wallowing or looking at things and saying ‘what if’, it’s about picking yourselves up and cracking on.
“Christmas is over now, we’ve reviewed the game and we’ve been putting in the hard work to hopefully get the four or five points against Gloucester.”
Against both Sale and Bath, the Chiefs more than held their own for long periods of the game and Jess knows that the odd tweak here or there to the Exeter game plan can ensure he and his team-mates get their league campaign back on track.
Jess said: “We’ve got a huge amount of positives to take from it, especially if you look at last week’s game (against Sale) to this game.
“It’s disappointing to come to Bath and lose and with the way we started I thought we were soaking up the pressure, playing in the right areas and we got on the scoreboard first.
“They’re a good team and we’ve had a look at it and we’ve been trying to right our wrongs in training this week. The most positive thing is that we had the performance, it’s just how we convert the pressure into points.”
And to get his own scoring campaign up and running was another bonus for Jess to take into 2015.
“Defensively it worked, we put them under pressure and they came up with a fumble and Dean was quick enough to snap it up and give the offload for me to run it in,” he said.
“I’d like to dedicate that try to my mum, I lost my mum back in May and it was a nice sentiment for me, but I’d rather convert one of those tries into a win.”
Indeed, a more clinical edge is something the Chiefs will need to demonstrate against Gloucester, who they beat 25-22 at Kingsholm back in September.
“I think the Bath game showed that in the big games you have to take your moments,” added Jess.
“You’re at the pinnacle, you’re in the Premiership not a Sunday League game where it could be to-ing and fro-ing, there were two defences there, two brick walls, and it’s a case of trying to break it.
“We played in the right areas and it’s the little details of how we start creating those chances and points. We’ve got a great coaching team and we’re hungry enough to work on them.
“The best thing about rugby is that you can learn from one game and try to implement it the next week. We were close to grabbing a losing bonus point at one stage but we’ll get there.”