For only the second time in the history of the competition, the Devon club booked their place – alongside defending champions Gloucester – in the capital showpiece when they advanced as one of two qualifiers in Group B last Thursday.
Although defeated by hosts Gloucester in their opening game of the night at Kingsholm, Pellow’s charges bounced back to record victories over Bath and London Irish to set-up a quarter-final encounter with Wasps this Friday.
Wasps booked their place at Finals Night by topping Group C at the Ricoh Arena and they will include in their ranks England international Christian Wade, who last Friday created a tournament record when he scored seven tries on the night.
Not surprisingly, Wasps – who also included established Premiership stars such as Elliot Daly, Sam Jones, Alex Lozowski and Dan Robson in their ranks – are the bookies’ favourites to lift the prize later this week, but Pellow believes tackling such talent will be beneficial to his young squad.
“It will be one hell of a night down there,” said the Cornishman. “I think for us to qualify and go down there and be in the finals will be a real test for the guys. It’s what we want as coaches though – to put the young guys in these positons to test their mental character and physical character.
“The sides who have already qualified means there will be some individuals who have been on the sevens circuit with a sprinkling of younger guys. And I’m just really excited to see what we can do down there. After playing at Kingsholm, to see them going down there full of confidence will be great.”
Led by skipper Sam Simmonds, the Chiefs quickly cast aside the disappointment of their opening game loss to Gloucester to then go out and produce impressive displays against rivals Bath and London Irish.
“We asked them to play with a smile on their faces and they did that,” continued Pellow. “I think Friday is going to be a hell of a day for this club and for the young guys. This is a great tournament for us to see the guys at university and at our senior academy really front up. I know all the senior squad plays back at home will have seen all of that and be really pleased for these younger guys.”
Simmonds, Sam Skinner and Stu Townsend provided the senior core to the Chiefs squad, but it was others such as Joe Simmonds, Pete Laverick, Adam Worth and Alex Ducker who also stepped up to the mark on the night.
Pellow added: “We asked them to show what it is to be an Exeter Chiefs player and put the shirt on and they showed all those characteristics in all three games.
“This tournament is about blooding some of the older guys like Sam Simmonds and Sam Skinner, who led from the front. But the younger guys, like Joe Simmonds, forced their way into the side and some of the cover tackles he put in were outstanding.
“Also Alex Ducker has come up from Cornwall and we have used him in a couple of tournaments and he really fronted up. Then, when Alex blew up, we were able to bring on Adam Worth with the gas that he has and he put us in a really good position. From one to 12, it was a really good night for the club.”
Not surprisingly, the Chiefs stick with the large nucleus of their squad that progressed through from Kingsholm a week ago, the sole change sees Welshman Adam Hughes come in for Ted Landray.
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