Ricky Pellow spoke of his pride after his Exeter Chiefs side secured Anglo-Welsh Cup glory with a 28-11 victory over Bath at Kingsholm.
First half tries from Jack Innard (2) and Toby Salmon, together with 13 points from fly-half Joe Simmonds, helped the Devon club to see off their nearest and dearest and secure the crown for the second time in the club’s history.
Bath countered through a Cooper Vuna try and two penalties from Freddie Burns, but it was scant reward on an afternoon where they were distinctly second best in all departments to the Chiefs.
Happy to stick with a large nucleus of those who had steered the Chiefs to a fourth successive final appearance, Pellow wasted little in highlighting the achievements of his side at the final whistle.
“I’m very, very proud of this group of players, not just the ones that played today, but all of those who have played from the group stages onwards,” said the Cornishman. “You have to give full credit to the whole squad. As I said, I’m very proud not just of the young guys, but the senior guys as well. Kai Horstmann has been a great stalwart of the club, so for him to finish, not now, but at the end of this with silverware and to have lead that side, it’s massively pleasing.”
In what was a storming start from the Chiefs, they quickly established a 13 point lead as Innard stole over from a well-worked line-out on five minutes to claim their opening try, which was converted by Simmonds. The young playmaker then added two penalties, before Bath started to show some fight of their own to reduce the arrears.
The Chiefs, though, were not to be denied and by half time they were well in control of proceedings as Innard added a second, before fellow forward Salmon was driven over from close range to put his side firmly in control of the scoreboard.
“We said we needed to hit the ground running and that’s exactly what we did,” added Pellow. “That fast start probably won us the game as it allowed to get points up before the weather started to come in. To get that lead and to keep them under pressure, it was certainly a defining factor.”
Although the second half failed to hit similar heights in terms of entertainment, Pellow was impressed by the way his side went about their business against a strong Bath outfit.
Now, the Chiefs will be looking to use the success as a springboard for an exciting final few weeks of the season where they will be hoping not only to secure a top two finish in the Aviva Premiership, but at the same time advance yet further and successfully defend their title crown.
“We are top of the Premiership at the minute, but we know we need to be on our money going back into the league next week [against Gloucester],” continued Pellow. “We can’t be happy just winning this, we must kick on from here. One of the strengths of us as a club is that we are always competing for honours, that doesn’t go away, so we can’t allow this to derail us in any way moving forward.”
Those who helped secure the win, however, were given the right to celebrate their success by Pellow and the Exeter coaches.
“We’ll celebrate tonight and probably sink a few beers, but come next week we have to reset quickly and go again,” said Pellow. “It’s going to be tough switching back into the Premiership and trying to keep that top spot, but that’s what we have to do.
“What’s encouraging is that we have a squad of players who want to be involved and who want to help drive this club forward. I think what today shows is the strength of the squad in the fact that we can go from one Friday to another - with two different teams - yet still perform at the highest level.
“Going back into the Premiership next week, it’s fantastic that we will have 40-odd players who have that hunger and who want to fight each week for one another and play for things at the end of the season. Today was something tangible for them to go after and they’ve come away with an outstanding result at the end, not just for themselves and the club, but also for the supporters as well.”
Member since: 5th January 2016
Hi, I am Mark Stevens, Media and Communications Manager for the Exeter Chiefs