1st April 2014
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Saturday’s narrow 14-13 loss at home against Gloucester saw Rob Baxter's side slip to ninth in the current standings, some 14 points adrift of former champions Harlequins in sixth.

With just four fixtures remaining for the Devon club - including home dates with both Sale Sharks and Harlequins who sit above them - Jess has not written off his side’s chances of muscling their way into a qualification position for next season’s top-flight European competition.

“It’s not dead and out of the water. If the results go our way we could sneak in there,” said Jess. “We’re going to attack the last four games. This season is almost over, we’ve got to make sure these four lots of 80 minutes don’t get away from us.

“We’re hurting inside. We can have a couple of days hurting about how close we were, refresh our minds then come back after a couple of days’ break and crack on with some hard work.

“We’ve got a fantastic squad, we’re always going to have a go, that’s the way Exeter is.”

Jess’ try – only his second of the campaign – and a Henry Slade penalty helped Exeter to an 8-6 lead at the break.

On the resumption, the Cherry & Whites moved 14-8 ahead before Exeter replacement Don Armand barged his way over in the final minute - only for Gareth Steenson to then narrowly missi the all-important conversion with the last kick of the game.

Jess, 29, said the Chiefs should not have left themselves needing a last-minute kick to win the match, and hopes they can finish their campaign with a good run of results in their final four fixtures.

“You always want to finish the season on a bit of a high,” said the flying winger.  “We’ve got Worcester away in the next game, then Sale and Quins at home and Newcastle away. You look at those games and, although Sale are on a good run at the moment, you back yourselves on your own pitch.

“As a unit and a squad we’re going to go out and attack these four games and enjoy the rugby we’re going to play.

“The pitches are starting to firm up so we can play some running rugby. We’re not going to change the brand of rugby we want to play, but we have to play in the right areas.

“For a good proportion of Saturday’s game we played in the right areas, but it was too little, too late in the last five minutes.”

Following their 45-15 loss at Leicester the previous weekend, there were yet more errors in the Chiefs’ game against Gloucester. That cost them promising positions and several try-scoring chances, and Jess knows they had to be more clinical against a side like the Cherry & Whites.

He said: “The boys were obviously disappointed. At home against Gloucester, personally I’d expect to win.

“We shouldn’t have left it until the last kick of the game to try to win it. We squandered a few chances early doors and let them in with a few bits of indiscipline, and they kicked their goals.

“We’ll regroup. We’ve got a couple of days off now with no game next weekend and we’ll really try to attack the four games we’ve got left.”

He added: “At the start of the game and midway through the second half we weren’t clinical enough.

“Against teams like this, with umpteen internationals, you’ve got to be clinical. They are a very well drilled side with some great individual players.

“We’ve got to look at the mistakes we made and regroup. That’s a win that’s gone begging.

“We’ll attack these last four games and look to get as high in the table as possible. We were looking up to sixth place but other games have got to go our way and at the moment they’re not.”

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Dave B

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