Exeter Chiefs skills coach Ricky Pellow praised the performance of hat-trick hero Michele Campagnaro as his side thrashed Wasps 52-5 to move to the top of Pool 2 in this season’s Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Mitch Lees, Sam Simmonds, Stuart Townsend, Shaun Malton and Lachie Turner also touched down in the eight-try rout at Sandy Park – with the scoring completed by young fly-half Joe Simmonds, who banged over six conversions.
It was, however, Campagnaro, likely to be included in the Italy side for next weekend’s Six Nations opener against Wales, who was the stand-out figure.
The 23-year-old centre’s treble meant it was six tries in his last three games – and seven for the season – in a performance which underlined his international class.
Understandably, Campagnaro stole the headlines for the Devonians, but there were a number of other stellar performances, including that of the Simmonds brothers and Turner, who rounded off the scoring in the final minute when he plucked a crossfield kick from replacement Will Hooley out of the air to score.
“Michele has been really strong in the last few games,” Pellow told Exeter Chiefs’ official website.
“Earlier on in the season he had a few injuries, but he has come back in and he has backed up performances. We’ve always know he was a strong ball carrier, and defensively he has been strong, but today we tried him on the wing and he built on a good performance at Clermont last week.
“Obviously it’s disappointing that we are going to lose him, but at the same time we want international players to be playing here, and spectators get to see those players. We wish Campo all the best going back into the Italy structure, but we will get him back in six or so weeks’ time and we can kick on from there.”
It took Campagnaro and the Chiefs just two minutes to open their account against a Wasps side, who struggled all afternoon to cope with the power, pace and precision of their hosts.
“It was a great performance from us and I’m especially pleased with the defensive effort in the last 10 minutes to keep our line intact,” added Pellow, whose side are likely to need another bonus-point win at Bristol this Sunday to secure a semi-final spot.
“The scoreline reflected the hard work we put in in the first half, and to only concede five points, despite being on our own line for long periods of time, summed up how the guys really came out and attacked the game and the energy they put in.
“We now go to Bristol next Sunday with qualification in our own hands. We will have another good training week this week and look to attack Bristol.
“Some of the senior players will come in and out as we get ready for Wasps in the Premiership the following week, to get those who haven’t played this weekend back up to speed, but the theme of the squad will stay the same, with around eight to ten Academy guys in there.’
“It’s now in our hands but it will be a tough game as Bristol have turned a corner.”