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Exeter Chiefs captain Hayes keen to get stuck into a tough run of fixtures

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 18, 2012

London Welsh's Jonathan Mills loses two front teeth and his gum shield after being tackled by Exeter's Tom Johnson on Sunday picture: Phil Mingo/Pinnacle

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Exeter Chiefs captain Tom Hayes cannot wait to get back to Sandy Park and try and put the disappointment of last Sunday's narrow loss at London Welsh behind him.

The Chiefs looked on course for victory at Oxford's Kassam Stadium, but Seb Jewell's conversion, following a try by Ed Jackson, condemned the Devonians to their second successive Aviva Premiership defeat.

Next up is Saracens at Sandy Park, and the Irish lock is determined to get back to winning ways on Sunday.

"It is a tough game, but all games in the Premiership are tough games," he said. "We enter a tough block of games now over the next five weeks starting with Saracens at home. We will just prepare as well as we can and be as positive as we can going into the game and control as much of it as we can.

"It will be good to get back to Sandy Park for us. There is always a good atmosphere down there and we are looking forward to next week and, hopefully, we can do enough to get the Sandy Park crowd to spur us on."

Like his head coach, Rob Baxter, Hayes is refusing to be too downcast about last Sunday's defeat, which came as a shock to the system after the Chiefs stormed into a 14-0 lead after just 11 minutes.

"It proves that, no matter how good a start you make, a game of rugby is not beyond you until 80 minutes are up," Hayes said. "We learnt that pretty quick when we came up to the Premiership and it hasn't really changed.

"This is our third season in the Premiership and, no matter who you are up against, it takes an awful lot for a game to be put out of your reach and Sunday proved that.

"Rob always talks about not getting on emotional roller-coasters. You win games, you lose games. We lost by a point and if we had won by a point, nothing much would have changed from the other 79 minutes of the match because we would still have played just as well or just as badly.

"We won't get too carried away by it, although it is very disappointing and there is no denying that. We will put it behind us and move on and try and be as positive as we can next weekend."

The win was the first of the season for Welsh, following their promotion from the Championship. Only time will tell if the Exiles can now build on that success, starting with their trip to Sale Sharks on Friday.

"You have to give credit to London Welsh. They never dropped their heads," Hayes said. "They were 14-0 down fairly early, but they came straight back into the game, started putting pressure on and capitalised on any errors that we made. That is what you have to do in the Premiership.

"I think a lot of it is about controlling momentum and controlling the pressure, and they have won a lot of games in their back yard.

"They will take a lot of confidence out of the win. The first two games were not the best of starts for them, but they have got a few points on the board now and, sometimes, getting over that first hurdle can be the hardest thing. We'll have to see if they can kick on from here."

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