Champions Cup: Exeter Chiefs in a ‘pleasing position’ after defeating the Bulls
Exeter Chiefs head coach Ali Hepher says his side is in “a pleasing position” after defeating the Bulls 44-14 in the Champions Cup at Sandy Park on Saturday.
Luke Cowan-Dickie scored a hat-trick for the hosts who have now claimed a full house of points in their opening two games in the tournament.
Got the job done
Having claimed successive bonus-point wins to kickstart their campaign, Hepher is pleased with his side’s position as they head into the break in a solid place to progress from Pool A.
“Starting out in this competition, if you can get to 10 points by the break, we are obviously in a pleasing position,” he said.
“Coming off the back of an emotional performance last week (against Castres), I am pleased with how the boys rocked up and got the job done.
“It’s pretty straightforward. You have four incredibly tough games, and every point is crucial.
“To get an away bonus-point last week and to back it up today was important.”
Exeter to send a full-strength squad to Pretoria
Jake White stunned many with his team announcement to face Lyon last week and backed largely the same team to take on Exeter Chiefs.
While the understrength Bulls outfit claimed a five-point maximum against Lyon in Pretoria last week, they could not back that performance up at Sandy Park.
Stravino Jacobs and Chris Smith’s second-half scores, both converted by fly-half Morne Steyn, did give White’s charges some hope, but in the end, it was a one-sided encounter.
Apart from Cowan-Dickie’s three tries, there were also touchdowns for flanker Dave Ewers, who was yellow carded late in the game, centre Henry Slade and replacement back Solomone Kata.
While the Bulls travelled without some of their best players, Hepher said Exeter would not do the same for the return fixture at Loftus next month.
“That’s the plan, yes,” he said when asked if they would send their strongest available squad.
“We view this competition very highly, and the players worked very hard last season to get into it.
“They want to be in this competition and playing in it.
“We want to give the guys the experiences they deserve, pitching themselves against the best teams in the world, really. That’s where it needs to be.
“We have a high regard for the competition, and we want to be successful in it.”
High praise for man of the match Ewers
Hepher had high praise for Ewers, who also shone in the 27-12 success against Castres seven days ago.
Ewers scored tries in both games, and Hepher said: “He has been incredibly impressive. He can shift, he can defend, he understands the game very well. There is a very good package there.
“When he is on the field, he brings you a physical presence, which you need against these guys.”
White calls for a more travel-friendly tournament
Meanwhile, White urged tournament organisers to make the competition more “travel friendly”.
“The people who organise this competition will have to look at how they can make it more travel-friendly,” White said.
The Bulls boss left 21 players in South Africa for the clash against the Stormers next Friday.
The Pretoria-based side then tackle the Dragons in Newport on January 6 before hosting Exeter eight days later and then visiting Lyon six days after that.
READ MORE: Exeter Chiefs power past the Bulls while Edinburgh hold off Castres