It is hard to argue that Exeter Chiefs have been one of the standout sides in the Champions Cup this season. They sit on 19 points with 4 wins from 4 going into their final games and need just a solitary point to qualify for the knockout stages.
David Challis has all the low-down from the Chiefs camp as they prepare to travel up to Glasgow. This being the previous home of Stuart Hogg and a place where Exeter has faced disappointment before, expect this to be a fiery encounter.
Glasgow Much More of a Threat at Home
Rob Baxter was quick to point out that the job was not done yet for his side ahead of their trip up north. Remembering their 28-21 defeat at Scotstoun two years ago which effectively ended their European hopes that season, Baxter is aiming to make sure there is no repeat.
Returning Star Ollie Devoto told us that this Exeter Chiefs side needs to be very wary of Glasgow at home. As a side that likes to throw the ball around the plastic pitch will likely favour that style of play meaning Exeter Chiefs will have to be on their guard at all times.
Baxter is also aware of the dangers of playing a side that is in the “last chance saloon”. Knowing that Glasgow is desperate for a win Chiefs will have to match their hosts physically and emotionally if they are to return to Devon victorious.
When he gets going, @samsimmonds_ is unstoppable 👊@ExeterChiefs powered past @GlasgowWarriors in Round 2, but will it be the same result up in Scotland this weekend?#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/0fJCOfGvMr
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) January 7, 2020
More Experienced Exeter Comfortable with European Rugby
In the past, Baxter admitted that his side “haven’t mentally locked ourselves down” in big games on the European stage. He now believes that as his side has grown in experience “were a lot more comfortable” with these past failures as well as with pressure that is to come.
Baxter believes that the reason his side is so successful now is because of the wealth of experiences his side have built up. Devoto echoed this sentiment by saying that “the European competition gives you that exposure”.
Hogg returns to Scotstoun
One of the largest subplots for this weekend will be the return of Stuart Hogg to his former club. The star full-back has settled quickly into life at Exeter Chiefs but this weekend will be his biggest test yet.
“my overriding emotion is excitement”
Hogg, however, does not seem to be feeling the pressure too much. He told us that he is “excited to get back” but “my sole focus is doing my job for Exeter”.
Baxter is hoping that his star signing can be the difference this weekend pointing out that;
“we’ve removed a dangerous attacking weapon from them and added it to our side”
Best is yet to come from Hogg
Despite impressing so many in his time in the South-West thus far Hogg and his coach believe there is still more to come for the Scotland international.
Hogg told us that he is “learning every day” and that “I feel like I’m thriving on it. Baxter agreed with this stating that “I still think he’s improving”.
It is clear from speaking to Ollie Devoto that Hogg’s influence has reverberated around the squad. Devoto told us that the full-backs confidence is infectious and that the rest of the squad feeds off it.
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Prospect of home Quarter-Final
Although the Exeter Chiefs Camp is not looking too far ahead, the prospect of a first-ever home European Quarter-Final looms. Ollie Devoto believes that such an occasion “would be massive for the club”.
However, if the Chiefs are to achieve this goal they must perform over the next fortnight. Glasgow away followed by La Rochelle at home will be no easy tasks but they could shape the coming months for Rob Baxter’s men.
“Main Photo Credits”
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