Exeter Chiefs star Jack Nowell (pictured below) says he and his team-mates are expecting much tougher resistance from French rivals ASM Clermont-Auvergne when the two lock horns again this Sunday in the European Champions Cup, writes Exeter Chief’s media officer Mark Stevens.
Fresh from seeing off last season’s beaten finalists 31-14 at Sandy Park last weekend, the high flying Devonians go head-to-head with the same opponents this weekend at the imposing Stade Marcel Michelin.
Cornishman Nowell knows from past experience that French teams on their own patch are a much different proposition and is expecting a backlash of sorts from the current Top 14 leaders.
“It’s going to be another tough game,” warned England star Nowell. “French sides tend to step it up at home, so the key thing for us has been to recover well this week and prepare right for the next game.
“Obviously we will do our homework on them again and there’s lots to go with from the game we’ve just played. In some ways it’s easy to say do the same as we did in this game, but we know it will be much different over there.”
Although the Chiefs trailed 14-3 during the first half at Sandy Park, Rob Baxter’s side bounced back impressively to secure the all-important bonus try bonus point with scores from forwards Thomas Waldrom (2), Don Armand and Mitch Lees.
Post-match, Nowell – who himself enjoyed a stellar performance – was quick to pay tribute to the Exeter pack, who in recent weeks have not only dismantled rivals from Clermont, but also Harlequins and Wasps.
“The group of forward we have and the way they are performing, they are winning games for us,” added Nowell. “They are putting us on the front foot and then us backs are doing what we do best.”
And even though the Chiefs trailed to one of Europe’s most recognised teams, Nowell insisted there was no panic within the home ranks at any stage.
He continued: “We have been down at times this season, but the belief in the team is massive. A couple of years we may have let it affect us and maybe we would have looked to have changed something.
“We always knew it was going to be tough in the first half, especially against the wind, but the big thing was the belief we had to carry on going, stick to our game plan and know that things will eventually click into place.”
With new England coach Eddie Jones among those watching from the sidelines, Nowell did his own international hopes no harm with an outstanding display, alongside that of man-of-the-match Waldrom.
“I wasn’t aware he was here,” joked Nowell. “For me, it’s all very simple and that’s to play well for Exeter first and foremost. As players you know the only way to get picked for England is by performing well for your club.
“This win is right up there for me. People always ask what is your favourite game and it would be easy to say it’s your first cap. However, the one that sticks in my mind was the Toulon game here a few years back.
“We put in a great performance that day, but to play a side like Clermont like we did today and to beat them in the manner we did, I think that’s probably overtaken that other game now. It’s definitely one of my best moments here.”