Not for the first time in his playing career at Sandy Park, the 27-year-old Irishman saw his side fall just short of overcoming one of English rugby’s leading lights as they went down 24-20 to Leicester Tigers last Saturday.
In a theme similar to that of several encounters last season, the Chiefs failed to hold onto their half-time advantage and it was the Tigers who came back to claim a vital away-day win.
Now, Whitten hopes the Chiefs can bounce back at the first attempt when they make the short trek up the M5 to Gloucester on Friday night.
It’s a fixture which over the years has always served up a feast of rugby from both teams and the Lisburn-born back says it’s key the Chiefs look to show their qualities from the outset at Kingsholm.
“It’ll be a tough test for us,” said Whitten. “They’ve signed a few boys, they have a new coaching set-up and they are looking to push on a bit. We know we have to be on our toes, but we’re playing well and we’ll certainly take confidence from our first two games. As I said, it’ll be tough and if we don’t pitch up, it will be a long night for us.”
Last season the Chiefs produced arguably their best display on the road when they won 29-12 in October and Whitten says the visitors will certainly take confidence from that performance, as well as the form they have already produced in games this term.
“It was a good performance up there last season, so we’ll look for more of the same,” added Whitten. “We should definitely take confidence from that, but it’s a tough place to go and the crowd are always on your backs a wee bit. We know, however, we’ve done well there in the past and hopefully it will be the same this week.”
Although thwarted by the Tigers last weekend, Whitten insists the mood within the Chiefs camp remains buoyant and that it will take only the odd tweak to get Rob Baxter’s side firing on all cylinders.
“We were disappointed to lose that way, but at least we know performance wise we’re not too far away,” continued Whitten. “Had we taken one or two of our chances then we could have won the game, so from that point of view it’s disappointing. At the same time we’ll take confidence we’re not too far away from knocking the top sides over, so hopefully we can put it all together on Friday night.
“Already this season we are doing some good things in attack and defence. Defensively we’ve been a lot better this season and you can see we’ve knocked it on a bit and guys are defending well. Also attack-wise some of the things we’ve worked on in pre-season have come together for us, so it’s about being clinical and taking those one or two chances against the top sides.”
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