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Jess expecting tough test against Pirates

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 15, 2012

'Cornish Pirates are not going to be an easy side to play against and they've recruited well' – Matt Jess

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Exeter Chiefs endured a tough afternoon during their first pre-season game of the summer last weekend and wing Matt Jess expects an equally challenging encounter against Cornish Pirates this weekend.

It is nine years since the Coventry-born back made his senior bow for the Pirates. The "Heamoor flyer" spent most of his childhood in Cornwall before moving on to join Gwent Dragons.

He returned west to join the Cornish All Blacks before eventually arriving at Sandy Park.

A fixture against the Pirates, even just a pre-season friendly, is always a game Jess eagerly anticipates, especially after last weekend's surprising 8-6 reverse against Connacht at Sandy Park.

"The Pirates were great in my time down there and I still keep in touch with a lot of the players at the club," he said.

"Cornish Pirates are not going to be an easy side to play against and they've recruited well in recent years. We've had them in pre-season friendlies before and it will be another good battle between us.

"I know they are a good unit and I like the style of play they have adopted over the last couple of years. It is good to see it been rewarded with two Championship finals – they are not far away from going one better.

"They will want to impress this weekend and it will be another interesting game."

Jess expects Chiefs to make big improvements on their opening pre-season performance against Connacht.

The Devon club looked some way off the form that took them to fifth in the Aviva Premiership last term.

"It was tough, they were a good strong unit and we're just trying to test all the things we've worked on in pre-season," said Jess. "We tried to attack the game and play under our own terms and I think we did that in certain periods and we should have done it a bit more.

"We will look at the video, as forwards, backs and as a whole and see what we could have done better.

"We broke them a few times but we need to refine how we finish them off. That will come as we progress. It is just about getting your support runners there but at least we are creating chances.

"There is a lot to work on, but we will take massive strides forward now."

Despite the negative scoreline, it was clear that Chiefs' desire to win every game remains intact. It would have been easy to let the result go with two minutes remaining but Jess and his team-mates battled as though Premiership points were at stake.

That will not be the case for real until September 1, when Chiefs host Sale Sharks.

Jess said: "At Exeter we try to work hard for each other and we don't like losing. We've got a lot of boys who keep shouting and encouraging, even when they are tired. We could have snatched it at the end and that is a positive.

"Mistakes are inevitable in pre-season but it is how we deal with it now. We won't brush it under the carpet, we will talk about it all and sort it out in the games between now and when we play Sale in the first game of the season."

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