Luke Cowan-Dickie hailed Exeter Chiefs’ fighting spirit after they emerged with a dramatic New Year’s Eve victory at Bath.
Trailing 11-0 following a disappointing first half at the Recreation Ground, Rob Baxter’s side were much improved during the second period, initially reducing the deficit with a Gareth Steenson penalty, before two late converted tries from James Short sealed a first-ever league win in the Roman City for the Devon club.
The victory not only maintained Exeter’s impressive run of form in the Aviva Premiership, but also allowed them to leapfrog their hosts into third place in the standings after 12 rounds of battle.
“I think it showed our fight that we managed to get on top in the last 20 and come away with the win,” said the 23-year-old hooker. “The first half obviously didn’t go so well for us. They got on top of us but we scrambled well and to only go in 11-0 at half-time, we knew we could come back from that.
“I just don’t think we matched them physically in the first half. They were on top in the collisions and a couple of scrum decisions went their way.
“We said we would have to stay in the fight and it worked out in the end. We ended up winning a game we were losing for most of the time.
“It made the dressing room a happy place. The boys were a bit down at half-time but we came away with a Premiership win away at Bath, which we have never done before, so we can enjoy ourselves.”
Next up for the Chiefs is Saturday’s trip to reigning Premiership and European champions Saracens, who themselves warmed up for the clash with back-to-back victories over Newcastle Falcons and Leicester Tigers over the festive period.
The Devonians, though, will travel in confident mood and in better shape than when the two met earlier in the season at Sandy Park. On that occasion, the Londoners proved too hot to handle, heading home with all the points following a 34-13 victory.
That was one of a number of early season blips for Baxter’s Chiefs, who in recent weeks appear to have rediscovered the kind of form that took them to last season’s Premiership final against this weekend’s hosts.
“The start of the season didn’t help us but we found our form and have grabbed a few wins,” said Cowan-Dickie, who has been included in Eddie Jones’ latest England elite player squad along with club-mates Jack Nowell and Henry Slade.
“Hopefully we can bang in a good training week and come out and play well against Saracens.”