Not content with winning the Anglo-Welsh cup recently, Exeter have now become the first team to reach the semi-finals of the Aviva Premiership Play-Offs.
In a magnificent and dominant display of power and style they swept Gloucester aside with ease 46-10. 8 points clear at the top of the table they are surely the favourites to win the title now?
Sarries Still Breathing Down Exeter’s Neck
Well you would think so if Saracens were stuttering. But the Sarries machine keeps rolling on. This time with a 63-13 victory against a struggling Northampton Saints, still desperately trying to find an identity and consistency they used to have under Tom Mallinder’s early stewardship.
The Exeter Chiefs Enigma
So the two dominant sides of the rugby union season continue to top the table. It’s weird to think that it was only in 2010 that Exeter were promoted to the Premiership. Now we see them as annual contenders for the title. That is how far they have come in such a short time under Rob Baxter’s steady and calm hand. He is one of the most under estimated coaches in the country.
Chief’s Passionate Supporters
You have to hold your hands up as well and give a huge ovation to Exeter Chief’s very passionate and very vocal support. Loyal to the last it is a credit to the club, geographically out on a bit of a limb, that they have generated such passion. You will also find a lot of Chiefs admirers and secret supporters out in the country too. It is the simplicity and understated way they go about their rugby that impresses. I count myself in that boat. Whilst I am a Worcester boy at heart I always love watching Exeter play.
Developing a Team The Exeter Way
You also have a hotbed for developing talent and buying in carefully to fit their needs. Rob Baxter kept faith with most of the players that got the club promoted believing that they would improve and they have. Jack Nowell is a case in point. Worshipped by the supporters he has developed and improved each season. Showing his versatility and rugby brain, playing both centre and wing and having a nose for the finish. He still needs to work on his positioning a bit more though. Then there is Sam Simmonds at number 8. Such promise and dynamism in such a young player. If he continues to develop at the same pace (Plus add a bit more gain line brute force), I can see him as a regular England fixture.
Can They Win The Aviva Premiership Again?
It will be a superb feat if Exeter triumph again. But you know I see no reason why they can’t. They conquered an ultra-creative Wasp 23-20 last year. Chiefs seem to have started to develop a regular winning state of mind in big matches. It was their downfall previously. But with the 2017 title in their hands and the 2018 Anglo Welsh cup is the winning habit unstoppable? We shall see. What a match it would be to have an Exeter v Sarries final. But that isn’t guaranteed in the cauldron of the play-offs. With the last 2 places in the semis still to be decided it’s still all up for grabs.