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No excuses for record Exeter Chiefs defeat, says Damian Welch

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: April 21, 2014

By Nick Warren

No excuses for record Exeter Chiefs defeat, says Damian Welch

Exeter Chiefs lock Damian Welch

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Exeter Chiefs lock Damian Welch admitted there were no excuses after his side slipped to their heaviest Premiership defeat against Sale.

The Devonians crashed to a 55-12 loss at home against the Sharks, conceding eight tries in the process.

Welch said the players would be doing a bit of soul searching to make sure they do not play that poorly again.

“I just don’t think we were at the races on Saturday, which in Premiership games against quality sides you can’t afford to be,” he said.

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“We knew Sale were building momentum, especially in the latter part of the season, but even so there are no excuses for the way we played. Everyone is bitterly disappointed.

“There weren’t any real harsh words straight after the game because sometimes I don’t think you get anywhere with harsh words. The guys know how they played, you’re your own harshest critic and if you played badly you know you played badly, you don’t need anyone to tell you that.

“We’ll regroup this week and I’m sure there will be a few straight-talking words said then and we’ll go from there.”

The Chiefs’ players should not have been lacking for motivation going into Saturday’s game as they have a chance of finishing seventh in the Premiership and going into a play-off for the last place in the new European Champions Cup.

The defeat, however, saw them drop back to eighth place, with Wasps now four points ahead in the play-off berth.

Welch said the fact they should have been fighting for that place made the defeat even harder to take.

“We’ve had European Cup rugby for the past two seasons and everyone here should be desperate for that for a third season,” said the 31-year-old lock.

“There’s no excuses for slipping off the ball, it’s not as if we had nothing to play for. That makes the disappointment even bigger to be honest.”

With the European semi-finals taking place, Exeter have no game this weekend and are next in action when Harlequins arrive at Sandy Park the following Sunday.

That is the final home game of the season, with just a trip to Newcastle to go after that, and Welch hopes the memory of the Sale beating will spur the players on in training over the coming weeks.

“That game should make the boys want to work harder,” he said of Saturday’s defeat.

“I certainly don’t come out every week to get beaten by 50 points and I’m certain the guys around me don’t either.

“We’ve conceded 50 points against Sale and we know we have a very good attacking team coming down the road in a couple of weeks’ time in Harlequins, and if that doesn’t concentrate our minds nothing will.”

After a season that promised so much early on, and delivered the club’s first piece of top-flight silverware with the LV= Cup, Welch doesn’t want the campaign to end on a low note over the final few fixtures.

“We don’t want the season to peter out after what could have been, so that will be a big motivating factor for us,” he said.

“At the very least, we need to get ourselves back to playing winning rugby and see what happens from there.”

Saturday’s heavy defeat came on the day it was confirmed that Welch’s fellow lock, James Hanks, has been advised to retire.

The University of Exeter graduate, who turns 30 this week badly injured his neck in the LV= Cup semi-final win at Bath in March.

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