Phil Dollman has warned the Exeter Chiefs defence will have to improve if they are to break their Aviva Premiership duck against Bath this weekend.
The Sandy Park outfit shipped 36 points in the second half last Saturday to condemn them to a 46-12 loss against Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup.
While the 27-year-old centre is enjoying the way the Chiefs are attacking teams, he knows they must shore up defensively to stand a chance of beating Bath for the first time.
“I think we’ve been playing some good rugby of late,” said the Welshman. “In the first half [against Clermont] we were moving the ball into space, carrying the ball well and recycling.
“We gave Clermont, and Quins a couple of weeks before, a lot to think about and a lot of challenges across the park.
“We’ll be looking to do the same against Bath, really test their defence and be rigid ourselves defensively as well.
“We’re not happy conceding as many points as we did in the second half against Clermont. That’s something we obviously want to improve on and try to shore that up.
“A quality set-up like Clermont are going to test you across the pitch but we’ll get the same from Bath. They’ll test us across the pitch with the quality they have and we’ve got to be up to the battle.”
Since winning promotion to the Premiership in 2010, Exeter have lost all six league games and one LV= Cup match against Bath. Dollman is keen to end that losing run this Saturday, but knows the Chiefs are in for another tough afternoon.
“It’s definitely something we want to do, we want to get a win against them,” he said. “They’re a quality side and they’ve beaten us every time.
“We’ve really got to be on our game to try to match them and try to get a victory. Nothing less is really going to get us a result from the game. Come Saturday, it’s going to be a big game.”
Dollman ended last weekend’s match at scrum-half as Will Chudley was forced off with a fractured collarbone, which will keep him out for up to three months.
It was the latest injury to befall the Chiefs, who already have the likes of Hoani Tui, Craig Mitchell, Josh Tatupu, Ben White, James Phillips and Kai Horstmann ruled out for varying lengths of time.
Dollman believes Exeter have the strength in depth in their squad to deal with that many knocks, and says those players will give their teammates a lift when they return to full training.
“We’ve had a bit of a congestion in terms of injuries but it just happens,” he said. “This is top-end rugby, top intensity, and we have to take the rough with the smooth.
“We’ve got a good squad here to deal with it and we can adjust. We know the people coming in are going to be up to scratch and can offer something different.
“Some guys are not far off from coming back, like Josh, and they’ll add something new in training.”
Dollman has featured in all eight of Exeter’s games so far this season, starting matches at full-back and on the wing as well as in the centre. While he has no intention of returning to scrum-half, he is keen to play his part wherever required by coach Rob Baxter.
“I’m enjoying my time in the midfield with Shoey [Jason Shoemark]. We are playing some good stuff at the moment and we’re getting plenty of ball in hand attacking defences,” he said. “That’s something I really enjoy and hopefully it continues.
“I’m happy to be in the side or anywhere near it and try to do my part to help the backline and the team, whether that’s at centre, wing, full-back or scrum-half.
“It’s going well at centre so hopefully that can continue. I’m enjoying it there outside the old boy Shoey.”