Head coach Ali Hepher heaped praise on Exeter Chiefs after they recorded successive bonus-point wins in the Heineken Champions Cup – and reminded his side how crucial every point is in the pool stage.
The 2020 champions were victorious at Castes Olympique in the opening round and followed that success up with a commanding 44-14 win over Vodacom Bulls at Sandy Park on Saturday.
Hepher commended his players for seeing the game out in the second half, having raced into a 32-point lead by 45 minutes thanks to a Luke Cowan-Dickie hat-trick and a Dave Ewers score.
“The tough bit is backing up big emotional performances – we had one of those last week and the guys got themselves in the right place to start the game,” said Hepher. “The quality that we produced early on was outstanding.
The standings after 2 Rounds of the #HeinekenChampionsCup
Did your team 📈?
Did they 📉?
Did they =?
Who is having the most memorable season so far? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/piH4B7wsTs
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 18, 2022
“We were pleased that we kept sticking at it. We could have easily conceded quite a lot of tries and stepped back and scored a few ourselves, and it would have been a nice game of rugby in the second half.
“I think we fought hard in the second half and defensively we were really good – other than a bounce of the ball we would have kept them out.”
Hepher went on to underline how vital it is for Exeter to get points on the board in the pool stage, with home advantage in the knockout stage on offer to the top performing sides.
“We’ve still got to get more points to get into the last 16, but you’ve got to go hunting high seeds for future rounds, whether it’s the last 16, quarter-finals or semi-finals,” he added.
“Every point in this cup is absolutely crucial so we’ve got to fight for everything when we get the chance.
“It allows us to go to South Africa on the front foot and be aggressive and try to pick up a memorable win out there.”