Exeter wing Jack Nowell believes his team cannot afford to let their standards slip as the quest for glory in the Premiership intensifies.
The Cornishman was in devastating form on Saturday, helping himself to three of Exeter’s ten tries in their 62-24 demolition of Harlequins.
That success not only ensured Rob Baxter’s side ended the scheduled top flight season on a significant high, but it guaranteed the Chiefs second spot in the table and a home semi-final against Wasps in the end of season play-offs.
England international Nowell knows this is unchartered territory for many at Sandy Park, but having got to this stage of competition, the 23-year-old winger now wants the Chiefs to make the most of their opportunity.
“It was important for us to back up our performance from last week [against Wasps],” said Nowell at the final whistle.
“A lot of people are saying we are running into form at the right time, but we’ve played like this all season to get into this position.
“The important thing for us is to not let this slip now at the business end of the season. Everyone knows what we are like at the Chiefs, once we have one thing, we want the next thing. Initially the aim was to get the top four, but once we got that we wanted that home semi-final and second position.”
As well as Nowell’s treble, fellow wing James Short grabbed two tries in the game, while Dave Ewers, Phil Dollman, Will Chudley, Henry Slade and Julian Salvi also dotted down. Fly-half Gareth Steenson kicked the rest of the visiting points to ensure he was crowned the Premiership’s Golden Boot winner for the season.
Now, the task for the Chiefs is to ready themselves for a fourth battle against Wasps this season. Exeter have won home and away in the Premiership, but it was Dai Young’s side who triumphed right at the death when the two met in the European Champions Cup quarter-final last month.
However, Nowell believes having home advantage at Sandy Park is vital to his side’s chances of progressing to a first-ever Premiership Final.
“We enjoy playing our way at Sandy Park and when the sun is out, we are able to throw the ball around a bit more,” said Nowell.
“When we have got the Sandy Park crowd behind us, it is not a nice place for the opposition to come down and play against us, so it is important that we play that way.”
Certainly the Chiefs have shown this season they have the credentials to mix it with the very best that English and European rugby have to offer, but it’s also their ability to stay in matches for as long as possible which has also proved key to their chances.
“There have been times in the past where those tight games have not quite gone for us, but we know every single point counts,” continued Nowell.
“We have worked hard all season to be in this position and this is the position we want to be in, so it is important we don’t let it slip.
“It is not the end of the journey yet. We have got a home semi-final against Wasps but it is important we keep going forward and keep attacking.
“We haven’t won anything yet and we haven’t achieved anything. We want to go all the way. As Rob says, we are two games away from being Premiership champions so it is important not to get too far ahead of ourselves and focus on the next game in front of us.”