Having kicked off their pre-season programme with a 24-17 victory at the Cardiff Blues, the Aviva Premiership club head across the Irish Sea this week to tackle Ulster Rugby at the Kingspan Stadium on Friday night (7.30pm).
With head coach Rob Baxter keen to run the rule over all his squad – including his eight new signings – scrum-half Chudley knows it’s important that each and ever Exeter player lays down a marker ahead of the upcoming campaign.
He said: “The Cardiff game was obviously the first chance for all of us to put a marker down and show what we have been working on in pre-season. The boys have been working really hard for six weeks, so it was great to get out there and play some rugby again. Getting the win was just the icing on the cake.”
Chudley started at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park and grabbed one of three tries in the opening half for the visitors alongside Jack Arnott and Sam Simmonds – fly-half Gareth Steenson kicked the remainder of the points.
Reflecting on the game, Chudley – who is now into this third season with the Devon club – said it was good to see the rewards of pre-season training coming to fruition with the on-field scores.
He continued: “Obviously in training you can do so much, but it’s not until you get into match situations that you get to know how well things really work. Some of the stuff we did on Friday was good, but there were also areas that we know we need to improve on.
“Having played that game, now we’ve got something to work with and I know the coaches will have us working hard again ahead of the Ulster game this week. For all of us, though, it’s games where we are able to show what we can do both individually and collectively.”
The Chiefs were given the perfect start in the Welsh capital when Arnott raced over inside 90 seconds and it was not long before Chudley himself followed suit with a clever snipe down the blindside following an Exeter line-out just inside the home 22.
Simmonds rounded off the scoring for the visitors when he was driven over from a line-out move on the stroke of half-time and although the Chiefs did their best to add to their tally after the break, some stubborn home defence and a few misleading calls from the referee dented Exeter’s hopes.
“Getting the try inside the first couple of minutes gave us a great start,” said Chudley. “It set the tone for us and the boys just followed it up with big hits, big carries and some really good play that gave us the momentum. I thought a lot of what we did was pretty clinical and it’s given us a good stepping stone to take into the Ulster game.”
With the Chiefs having to play all their pre-season games away from Sandy Park due to the current redevelopment works, Chudley believes getting wins on the road so early in the season will help the club ahead of their seasonal opener against London Welsh on September 7.
“Premiership games are always very tough and winning away is never easy, we know that,” added Chudley. “That said, it’s important we try and back results up and for us Ulster is another key game. It’s a chance for us to put in a performance; hopefully get back-to-back wins; and get into that winning habit early doors.”
Ahead of the game, head coach Rob Baxter is buoyed by the return of Brett Sturgess, James Scaysbrook and Tom James all of whom missed last week’s win against the Blues. However, Dave Lewis will not travel as he is due to undergo tests on the arm injury he sustained in the second half of that game.
Others set to be included on the trip are native Ulstermen Steenson, Ian Whitten and Ryan Caldwell and Chudley says the trip are relishing the opportunity of playing ‘back home’.
“Ulster at Ravenhill is a huge game,” continued Chudley. “We’ve got a couple of boys in the squad from there and I know they’re all excited about going back there. They’ve already said it wlll be a tough place to go, but why not test yourselves against the top sides.
“It’s another good, tough fixture that I know will help us get us ready for the new season, so it’s up to us to give it a good crack.”
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